Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) announced the election of I Venkat, Director, Eenadu as its Chairman for the year 2016-17 on Friday last week. Venkat succeeds Shashidhar Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, in his new role.
Incidentally Venkat, is also the Chairman of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC).
He has also in the past served as the chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and been on the boards of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and International News Media Association (INMA).
On the sidelines of his appointment, as new ABC Chairman, we had a brief chat with I Venkat on the roll out of ABC’s digital measurement service around Diwali, IRS and ABC aligning together and more………
What is your agenda as the new Chairman of ABC?
In an industry body like ABC, the Chairperson does not have any specific agenda; he or she has to only carry forward whatever work has been left behind. The Chairperson can put forth ideas that he thinks are important, but his ideas are subject to approval from the board, and his role is largely to facilitate things, just like a music conductor.
What are the ideas you have put forth?
It is too premature to talk about that at this time and I will share it at the right time.
Shashi Sinha your predecessor had said that ABC and IRS should be on the same platform, do you see that happening in the near future?
Absolutely, his opinion is no different from mine, the ABC or the MRUC board. When the IRS comes out early next year, IRS and ABC should align together.
The digital measurement service was slated to go live from Q3 2016 …..
The challenge before ABC was that some publications had their own ideas which didn’t align with our stand. Recently, we had a meeting again and post that meeting, barring one publication, all others have taken a unanimous stand. As things stand right now even that one publication has come on board. In principle, the ABC Board has agreed we will be going live with the digital measurement around Diwali.
Don’t you think print needs to come together and invest behind the medium like Television has done with BARC?
Print is more of a legacy medium, you have some newspapers which are 150, 100, 80 and 40 years old, so they have their own ideas. It will take a little while to bring them together, as it is like getting people from different age groups together.
As someone who leverages over four decades in this space, what are your thoughts on the Print industry currently?
I believe Print still has an advantage. Whatever you watch on the television at night, people come back in the morning and open the newspapers because they believe the credibility of print is far higher than television at this juncture. In today’s context, if you look at India, and if you look at ABC in the last 7-8 years, the annual CAGR rate has been 6-7% which is something that you don’t see anywhere else in the world; the only other place that comes closer to India is China. The reason that it is happening is the growing demand, though the fact is that regional is growing faster than English. There is a lot of money coming in the market and a lot of consumption. When we put all of this together, you can get a fair idea of the kind of strength that Print has in the country, which television definitely does not have.
The other advantage of print media is that every newspaper in each region is adopting an innovative method to connect with the readers by taking out editions that are specific for a particular geography; we even started with a district newspaper, and such innovations are not possible with a medium like television, which is more uniform in its appeal.
What is your message to the print industry as new Chairman of ABC?
That is a hard question; I just want to say Print is a very strong medium and so ‘Just convey the message to the reader truthfully and properly.’
What is needed for the next leap forward for the Print industry in your view?
I think the print media needs to consolidate within their own regions to understand their readers’ needs more aggressively.