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Guest Article:
Is IRS a worthy print currency? – Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Chitralekha Group

Guest Article:
Is IRS a worthy print currency? – Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Chitralekha Group

Author | Mitrajit Bhattacharya | Wednesday, Sep 01,2010 8:01 AM

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Guest Article:<br>Is IRS a worthy print currency? – Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Chitralekha Group

The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) is today the only measurement currency the great Indian print media can follow. However, what is its true worth?

To understand it, we need to start from the beginning. We have thousands and thousands of newspapers and magazines in this country in multiple languages. Though IRS has a sample size of close to 300,000, which is unmatched by any readership survey in the world, we must keep in mind that the sample size is decided by the heterogeneity of the universe as much as it is decided by the size. For example, if we need to interview doctors on some medical issue, we do not need too large a sample size. But if we need to check the eating habits of Indians, the sample size needs to be large due to the heterogeneity in culture and food habits across India. That’s the reason the sample size of 300,000, which otherwise seems enormous, might still not be adequate for a linguistically diverse India.

Now, let us take a look at the complexities that the print medium has to offer. It comprises newspapers and magazines. The basic difference between the two is: newspapers are local by nature, whereas magazines are national. Even if it’s a regional language magazine, it will be national by nature. What it means in terms of distribution is: newspapers are very well distributed in local centres, while magazines build numbers nationally, but may not have adequate numbers in each local city. The entire IRS debate not working for magazines stems from this phenomenon.

The survey has a fixed number of interviews in each city of India and then it builds on projections based on demographics of that city. Since newspapers have widespread distribution in that chosen city, the sample projects the readership numbers fairly accurately. For magazines, on the other hand, even if your pan-India numbers are quite good, in most markets your distribution will never be representative enough to make any sound projections with error levels within acceptable limits. In simple terms, a few readers in the sample can make huge impact on the projected readership positively and vice versa. This leads to huge fluctuations in readership of magazines with every new round of IRS.

So, there are two options for reporting of data for magazines: either present data only for the cities where you have enough number statistically required for a stable data, or drop the magazines altogether from the survey. The first one is highly risky as you will have only part-data and not full-data, and the second one leaves the magazine industry with no option.

So, do we have a solution in sight? Not exactly. This is also partly because of the heterogeneity that exists within the magazine industry itself, which again is not the issue so much with the dailies. In the magazine genre, we have magazines for high-end luxury to farming magazines, which add to the complications. So, any one quantitative alternative that will address the issues of the entire magazine industry looks distant. There are attempts made by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) to address this issue and will probably be able to come up with an alternative to the quantitative survey that currently exists.

(Mitrajit Bhattacharya is President and Publisher, Chitralekha Group.)

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IRS Q2 2010: Magazines see a close fight in Madhya Pradesh; mixed trend seen in the market

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IRS Q2 2010: Dailies do exceptionally well in Kolkata; magazines fail to keep pace

IRS Q2 2010: Magazines display strong growth potential in Andhra Pradesh

IRS Q2 2010: Most dailies, magazines witness slump in Kerala

IRS Q2 2010: In a case of reversals, dailies lose out in Himachal Pradesh; magazines do well

IRS Q2 2010: Poor results continue to haunt dailies in Jammu & Kashmir

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Guest Article: IRS and the elusive credibility: Manajit Ghoshal, Mid-Day Infomedia

IRS Q2 2010: Publications in Maharashtra see some light

IRS Q2 2010: Positive fallout of Jharkhand print war – four out of top five dailies see growth

IRS Q2 2010: Hindi publications dominate Bihar market; magazines witness decline trend

IRS Q2 2010: Many gainers in Karnataka market; magazines reverse the decline trend

IRS Q2 2010: Publications in West Bengal do well with positive readership trends

IRS Q2 2010: Assam market looks grim for dailies and magazines; all see dip in AIR

IRS Q2 2010: TOI’s might continues in Mumbai; positive growth boosts other players too

IRS Q2 2010: Dismal shows for English magazines; numbers head south

IRS Q2 2010: Four of the top five Hindi magazines witness decline; Saras Salil maintains lead

IRS Q2 2010: Mixed reactions from South publishers; call for different pattern of estimation for magazines

IRS Q2 2010: English dailies show positive growth; TOI remains undisputed leader

IRS Q2 2010: Positive growth for Top 3 Hindi dailies in Delhi NCR; NBT leads

IRS Q2 2010: Hindi dailies witness several ups and down in Mumbai

IRS Q2 2010: Pecking order of Tamil publications remains intact despite decline in AIR

IRS Q2 2010: Top order remains unchanged for Marathi publications; dailies soar, but magazines despair

IRS Q2 2010: Kannada publications chalk up a growth story; double digit growth for 3 Kannada dailies

IRS Q2 2010: Four of Top 10 dailies see decline in AIR; no change in order seen among top 5 dailies; Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar lead again

IRS Q2 2010: Decline trend continues to plague magazines; top order remains unchanged

IRS Q2 2010: HT continues lead in Delhi & Delhi NCR; negative growth for top 2 players

IRS Q2 2010: Business dailies put up a decent show; magazines still fighting it out

IRS Q2 2010: Top 10 Hindi dailies witness ups and downs; Dainik Jagran remains the leader

IRS Q2 2010: Daily Thanthi shows growth amid declining AIRs among Tamil publications

IRS Q2 2010: Gujarati publications have a growth story to tell

IRS Q2 2010: Top Bengali dailies put up a good show; but periodicals show signs of fatigue

IRS Q2 2010: Mixed bag for Malayalam publications; some dailies see growth, all magazines drop

IRS Q2 2010: Mixed bag for Telugu publications

IRS Q2 2010: Top Punjabi publications witness general growth trend

IRS 2010 Q2: No joy for Assamese publications as AIRs continue to decline

IRS Q2 2010: Oriya publications take the de-growth route

IRS Q2 2010: No surprises in Urdu publications; Inquilab, Siasat hold top positions

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