Business Standard has alleged Mint, the business newspaper from Hindustan Times Media Ltd, of portraying ‘misleading’ figures in their recent print ads. Business Standard has written a letter to the Advertising Standards Council of India and requested it to cease and desist HT from releasing further ads in any medium till it was cleared by the Council.
The advertisements had appeared in the November 12 issue of Mint and in the November 1-15 issue of Brand Reporter.
Business Standard’s letter to the ASCI alleged that through the ads, HT Media had compared the readership of Mint with other business dailies and made a claim that was misleading. Mint, which was launched in February 2007, is not associated to either Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) or the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) and the figures quoted came from an independent source.
S Arun Natesh, Head-Marketing, Business Standard, said, “The ads are ambiguous to the extent that one is not sure whether the purported number is one of circulation or readership for Mint (audited is a term that is usually used for circulation and not for readership). On top of that, the comparison extends to readership figures for the past year (IRS R2 06), which is a highly dated information and can strictly not be compared.”
He further said, “It was clearly shocking to see Mint claiming to be the No. 2 based on ‘internally audited numbers’. Now, only circulation can be ‘audited’, not readership.”
Meanwhile, Rajan Bhalla, Publisher, Mint, clarified, “The data sources for the figures are quoted in both the ads very clearly. Mint internally audited numbers by a reputed CA firm because for a publication that is eight months old, IRS or ABC numbers cannot be there, by definition. The ad shows figures of IRS 07 R2 for Hindu Business Line and Financial Express and IRS 06 R2 for Business Standard since IRS 07 data for Business Standard is not available. Secondly, the claim made is not of being No. 2 in India, but of being the No. 2 business daily in Delhi and Mumbai.”