New Delhi: The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) isn’t impressed by the findings of the latest Indian Readership Survey (IRS) that were released on 21 March. According to one finding of the survey, conducted twice a year by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC), a body of media owners and advertisers that funds media research, the readership of publications across the country declined by 4.5%, to 171 million in the second half of 2006, as compared to the first half.
INS circulated a note among its members, comprising most print media firms in the country, that expressed surprise at the declining readership at a time when circulation of most publications was rising, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), a not-for-profit voluntary organization that audits the circulation of member newspapers.
The note said that there appeared to be something wrong with the way readership surveys are conducted in India. “We have mooted the idea of having our own survey among members,” said Paresh Nath, vice president, INS, and Editor and Publisher, Delhi Press.
According to the findings of the survey, Dainik Jagran was the most-read Hindi newspaper in the country with a readership of 17.1 million; Dainik Bhaskar was No.2 with a readership of 12.5 million and Hindustan, published by HT Media, which also owns Mint, No.3 with a readership of nine million. In English newspapers, The Times of India was No.1 with a readership of 6.8 million, followed by the Hindustan Times (also published by HT Media), with 3.3 million and The Hindu with 2.2 million. However, the numbers were lower than those these newspapers had registered in the last edition of IRS.
This would appear to be the main reason for INS’ unhappiness. According to the survey, readership in all segments of print media has declined. Most well-known newspapers and magazines have shown a drop in their readership.
Meanwhile, the volume of print advertising continues to grow. According to Adex India, an agency that tracks advertising spends across media platforms, print accounted for a 48.2% share in the total ad pie of Rs16,300 crore in 2006, which was an increase over the previous year’s 47.9%. Television, its closest rival, had a 40.6% share in 2006 compared with 41% in 2005.
Explaining the reason behind this L.V. Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, said: “Print has quite a few positives. One, it is comparatively a cost-effective medium. Then, it offers brands various options of advertising, like classifieds, special supplements, etc.” Print also has committed readers, thereby, giving brands access to loyal customers, he added. Most advertisers maintain that print advertising will continue to grow, despite the decline in readership. “Television has become a cluttered medium. Then, there has been a huge media fragmentation because of the entry of too many genres and players, whereas print still continues to be a monopolistic space,” said Punitha Arumugam, group CEO, Madison Media.