The NRS Technical Committee has agreed to withdraw Business Standard’s readership figures from NRS 2005. It has intimated the financial daily of its decision in a letter. The reason: Business Standard claims that its current print run is 85,000 copies. Yet, very strangely, as per NRS 2005, its readership stood at 33,000! The company found this hard to believe and requested NRSC to withdraw the figures.
Rakesh Shah, VP-Marketing, Business Standard, is delighted over the fact that their voice has finally been heard. “We have been fighting this battle for over three years now and we feel it’s a positive step for niche publications,” he said. Significantly, this contradiction cropped up even in the last NRS where the readership for Business Standard was lower than its circulation.
The company statement by Business Standard reads: “This reaffirms Business Standard’s stand that mass media research surveys do not project the correct readership figures of publications with a high-end readership, like Business Standard.”
As an explanation, National Readership Studies Council (NRSC) has commented: “NRS being a sample survey, the readership estimates of any publication will be subject to ‘statistical errors’. The current study has been designed to estimate readership of publications with a tolerance of 0.5 per cent for a 2 per cent penetration at the state level with a confidence limit of 90 per cent.” The letter further explained that in case of Business Standard the statistical error was large, leading to unstable estimates.
It also said that readership of such publications was indicated by an asterisk so that planners assessed the value of the publications using other data besides readership. But, since Business Standard had found this insufficient, it was agreed that NRSC would not release the figures in the final data disk slated for release on July 11, 2005.
Kedarnath Sharma, Vice-President, NRSC, defended the decision pointing out that in such a large sample which spanned the entire country covering SEC A to E population, some niche publications might lose out. “In such a large survey, the sample pick-up for niche publications may be low and subject to some errors. Our study boasts of a 90 per cent confidence level but as Business Standard was not satisfied, we agreed to remove their figures,” he said.
On being asked if more niche publications would be withdrawn from NRS, Sharma preferred not to comment.
One fact that emerges from the above development is the need for a survey catering specifically to niche publications so that they don’t lose out. But the fact can’t be ignored that NRS is the most robust and widely accepted data in the industry today.