The IRS-NRS merger is becoming a long row to hoe; even after a year, it is still said to be in its ‘nascent’ stages. Without a time-frame and deadline, the merger is not expected anytime soon. exchange4media’s attempts to get comments from the members of the IRS-NRS merger task force drew a blank. The members of the task force put together by the NRSC and the MRUC include industry big wigs like Sam Balsara, Ashish Bagga, G Krishnan and Bharat Kapadia.
The industry unanimously believes that the merger was supposed to help create a single, robust currency. However, the industry is perturbed and anxious as to when the merger will eventually happen. Maheshwar Peri, Publisher of Outlook magazine and President, Outlook Publishing India Pvt Ltd, said, “Yes, it was definitely supposed to help the industry. However, the way it’s been going, I am not very optimistic. It’s been over a year now… I am sure people are working hard, but I don’t see the merger happening anytime soon.”
The question remains, was the merger really needed? The NRS, as it is, has not come out with any relevant market research since 2004. Refusing to comment on the IRS-NRS merger issue, Rahul Kansal, Chief Marketing Officer, The Times of India Group, stated that NRS had already been defunct since the year 2004 and wondered how the merger of an entity with a non-entity would help.
Excessive time taken for the IRS-NRS merger in reality can create a setback for the merger itself. Also, there has to be a definitive methodology to not only how the survey has been done, but also how the merger will be done in the first place. R Rajmohan, Publisher of Open magazine, noted, “The industry would definitely need a single currency; we’ve had enough of two different researches. It is in the interest of the industry that they are coming together and will have a single research, that’s welcome. However, the merger should take place soon – the earlier the better. We have already lost one year, and we have no information on what they are doing. They also need to address the research methodology, etc., which has not been fair to the magazine publishers.”
Publishers are now looking for answers regarding the development of the merger and the optimism level is not very high given the delay. Voicing her concern, Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar UM, said, “We were most excited when we heard this. Lodestar has always maintained that we should have only one survey. The industry needs to be able to do more diversified surveys across different media. It is a complete waste of money to do two surveys for the same set of questions.” When asked, whether the initiative had met with a bottleneck of sorts, she replied, “That’s a million dollar question. Hopefully, we can overcome whatever the problem is and move on.”
Lamenting the delay, KK Goenka, MD, Prabhat Khabar, said, “It’s unfortunate that even after one year (almost), we have heard nothing about the IRS-NRS merger. They should work together to have a single currency. We newspaper owners suffer because we pay for these measurements. If there is no headway, then the INS President should intervene in this matter. We welcome this merger and the merger is good for advertisers too.”
MRUC is the body set up by ad agencies, advertisers and media houses, while the NRSC is a body constituted by INS, AAAI and ABC for the purpose of carrying out readership surveys in India. In August 2009, the IRS, which is the flagship readership research from MRUC, and NRS, which is the readership research from NRSC, were to be merged after both bodies passed a resolutions at their respective governing council meetings. But, after almost a year, the industry is still not informed about what is going on within the closed doors of the IRS-NRS merger task force meetings.
With expectant eyes, the industry awaits an official announcement from the IRS-NRS task force, as the merger threatens to sink in the quagmire of times.
(With inputs from Nitin Pandey)