Readership of most publications falls across India, survey says

Readership of most publications falls across India, survey says

Mumbai: Readership of most newspapers and magazines has dropped over the past six months, according to the latest data (Round 2) of the Indian Readership Survey 2008 released on Tuesday, although the top five Hindi and English dailies retained their ranks.

The top five English newspapers by total readership are: The Times of India, the Hindustan Times, TheHindu, TheTelegraph, and the Deccan Chronicle.

The top five Hindi dailies by total readership are: Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Hindustan, and Rajasthan Patrika.

The Hindustan Times and Hindustan are published by HT Media Ltd, which also publishes Mint.

Also See Declining Numbers: The Indian Readership Survey 2008 (Graphic)

These numbers, however, are unlikely to make much difference for media buyers because they relate to “total readership" or the number of respondents who claim to have read the publication “recently". Media buyers buy advertising space on the basis of average readership, which only counts the number of people who have read the publication the day before (in the case of magazines, a week before for a weekly and a fortnight before for a fortnightly). These figures weren’t released on Tuesday.

The Media Research Users Council (MRUC), the body that conducts the survey, is expected to release detailed findings on Wednesday.

While most newspapers saw marginal decline in readership and some saw a slight increase, magazines saw a dramatic fall. For example, Hindi language fortnightly Saras Salil, on top of the list with a total readership of 8.4 million, saw a 1.4 million fall in readership from 9.8 million.

Andrey Purushottam, vice-chairman, MRUC, said: “The fact is that it’s the youngest amongst us who are moving away from print. There have been a lot of us who have complained that circulation figures are on the rise, while readership figures are steadily declining. As a solution, we could double the sample size, but it’s doubtful whether it would change the nature of the findings,"

According to MRUC, other contributors to declining readership are an increase in the number of nuclear families that may not buy as many papers as joint families, and a decline in the reading habit.

A magazine publisher, however, said that the survey could do with some improvement.

“I think mass surveys are not in a position to capture readership for magazines. Magazines have a different geographical spread—it’s more of a heterogeneous medium," said Malcolm Mistry, publishing director for India Today. He added that magazine publishers want a survey that adequately captures the complexity of the medium.

Chandradeep Mitra, president, Mudra Max, an arm of Mudra Communications Pvt. Ltd said that while more people may be subscribing to dailies and other publications, they may not actually be reading them. There is more of casual readership than dedicated readership, he added. And television, which broadcasts news before print, takes away a compelling reason to read newspapers, he said.