The delay in the release of Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2008 R-1, due to a publication influencing fieldwork in Rajasthan, has resulted in a bashing session between data users and the Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC).
Using the media as the battleground again, the first punch was seen after the MRUC released a statement on November 2, 2007, stating its decision to delay the IRS data on the grounds that Hansa Research had discovered that a publication in Rajasthan was trying to influence the fieldwork. The MRUC declined to name the publication, stating that the investigation had to be thorough before its name was revealed as this was too sensitive a matter to speculate in any form or give a name without being completely sure.
A section in the press, however, published on November 5, 2007 that the publication in question was Rajasthan Patrika. The same evening, the Bhaskar Group issued a statement condemning Rajasthan Patrika “to have stooped so low to adapt unethical means and ways to influence readership research figures”. When the Bhaskar officials were asked the reason to make this public statement, the Group’s Executive Director, Bharat Kapadia, said, “We have read about this in the press, and there are two main players in Rajasthan. We know we had not done it.”
The other key player in Rajasthan, besides Dainik Bhaskar, is Rajasthan Patrika. The officials from Rajasthan Patrika are resorting to responses like “contact MRUC” and sharing the MRUC reaction rather than making any statements.
The November 5, 2007 report also triggered a dialogue between the MRUC and Rajasthan Patrika, wherein MRUC’s G Krishnan called this report “an act of mischief”, and, in fact, assured Rajasthan Patrika that it was taking relevant actions against the publication of this report.
When quested on this series, and the dirty linen that data users are washing in public, the MRUC has clearly stated that the MRUC is yet not prepared to give any further clarity on this matter. Both MRUC and Hansa Research say that there is still time before the truth in the matter would be known.