Whatever the figures say, no one can deny that Hindi dailies rein over the readership and circulation charts. I believe that the Hindi belt is still a prospective market. The fact is that for most of the Hindi dailies, circulation figures are increasing term-by-term. The current slowdown might have affected the advertising business of the publications, but the scope for circulation is increasing, which is resulting in additional financial burden for the publication houses.
But it’s a paradoxical situation that while Hindi publications are gaining circulation, their readership findings are showing a decline, for which survey agencies have their own reasons. These findings do not mean a shrinking market in the Hindi belt. It’s the research process which requires change to gauge the true picture.
The IRS sample size is split in the ratio of 70:30 between urban and rural areas. For some language publications, a large portion of readership comes from rural areas, but it does not get reflected in the findings because of the disproportionate sample split. The sample size in rural areas and also the number of reporting towns need to be increased.
After every round, the debate on AIR and TR leaves the media and trade divided. One uses the metric that benefits him more. Two different figures of a publication do not ascertain the true value of that publication. Therefore, there needs to be single metric.
The entire process needs to be restructured and amended to suit the needs of the fast changing market.
(Vineet Sethia is Director, NaiDunia Media.)