To better structure the work of the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI), the Council has formed sub-committees with specific mandates to ensure that the new avatar of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), under the aegis of RSCI, is in sync with the changing times and in line with industry’s expectations.
Tech Com, Industry Relations & Selection Committee
One of the most important committees that would shape RSCI’s offer would be the Technical Committee (TechCom). Paritosh Joshi, CEO, STAR CJ Network India Pvt Ltd, is the Chairman of this Committee. The Committee, which held its first meeting on December 1, 2011, has a crucial role to play to ensure that the anomalies of the existing IRS are rectified and suggestions from industry experts are taken into consideration so that the newer version is a robust, comprehensive, representative study.
RSCI has also formed a two-member Industry Relations Committee comprising Ashish Bhasin and I Venkat from the RSCI Board, in order to give due importance to issues and concerns expressed by specific publications, and to ensure that delays in responding to such issues by the Secretariat or by the research agency are reduced to the minimum.
Lynn de Souza, Chairman & CEO, Lintas Media Group and Chairperson, RSCI informed that a selection committee for the scrutiny and appointment of the research and technology partners for IRS 2013 onwards has also been set up.
Tech Com’s Mandate & Team
Lynn de Souza, Chairperson, RSCI and CEO and Chairman, Lintas Media Group has charted out a four-point mandate for this committee. This includes Creation and maintenance of a world class gold standard measure of readership in India that captures as many forms of reading behaviour, reading locations and reading occasions as is feasible. Delivery of a representative continuous readership study that is effective for media planning by advertisers and space selling by media owners. Development of RFI’s and RFP’s to source the right combination of research and technology partners to deliver the IRS from 2013 onwards, sustainable for a period of five to ten years. And recommendation for continuous improvements to ensure that the capture and reporting measures used by the IRS are accurate, timely, reliable and cost effective.
The other members in the TechCom are Akila Urankar (Business Standard), Mubin Khan (DNA), Varghese Chandy (Malayala Manorama), Arpan Chatterjee (Nai Duniya), Shantanu Bhanja (Hindustan Times), and Basant Rathore (Dainik Jagran) from the publishers’ side; Arun Sharma (Airtel), Ranajit Ghosh (ITC), and Arpita Menon (STAR) from the advertisers’ side; and Premjeet Sodhi (LMG), Janardhan Panday (Mudra Max), Shan Jain (GroupM), and Vijay Subramaniam (Madison) from the agency end.
Gold standard for readership research
Speaking to exchange4media on the mandate for the Technical Committee, Joshi shared, “The mandate for the Technical Committee is pretty straightforward. The RSCI wishes for the IRS to become the gold standard for readership research, a point that Lynn (de Souza, Chairperson, RSCI) has also articulated. Now, the way the TechCom understands it, when you say gold standard for readership research in India, it should actually represent the gold standard for readership research anywhere in the world. If this is the single largest study of its kind in the world, then we need to aspire towards the gold standard of readership studies. Period. And that is what the TechCom considers to be its mandate – to design and create the gold standard of readership studies anywhere.”
As to the Committee incorporating inputs from global best practices, Joshi remarked, “There aren’t so many similar bodies in the strictest sense, but what we do propose to do and which we will be doing in the near term is we will be sending out an RFI – a Request for Information, like an Information Memorandum. We will invite all sorts of entities from around the world, starting with market research agencies, to share with us possible best practices for such studies that they have developed from their global experience. That is the first stage.”
Regarding the recommendations, the TechCom will blueprint what it wants from the next IRS and share that blueprint with the RSCI Governing Board; a new version of the IRS is what will eventually be made public. “Recommendations are an internal exercise. So, the recommendation and discussion process between the TechCom and the RSCI Board is a dialogue which has already begun. Now that we’ve constituted ourselves and will soon have our second meeting, every time we arrive at a set of specific recommendations for what we wish to achieve, they will be placed before the RSCI Governing Board; we will seek their concurrence and then go ahead with it. It will be done within the confines of the RSCI community,” Joshi added.
He further explained that technical committees of any research were less about recommendation and more about activation. “By ‘activation’, I mean activating the research. The TechCom’s agenda is ultimately about ensuring that a new generation of IRS begins to happen. The sunset date for the current round of the IRS contract with Hansa Research Group is next year. So, in any case we need to proceed beyond that; there is necessarily going to be a contract for subsequent years as well. That is what we are interested in right now – giving shape to the research that will be the successor to the current study that we are doing. However, this does not imply that we will discard everything we are doing right now because what we are doing right now is very valuable and there are several stakeholders who need this information to conduct their day-to-day business – be it publishers, clients or advertising agencies. But, not discarding what we have got is different from sticking only to what we have got. Going to the gold standard means that we enhance the capabilities and engineer more value into the IRS; we make the IRS an invaluable sourcebook of information, knowledge, and insight to many more audiences.”
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