Industry leaders had never lacked the vision of what the combined strength of the National Readership Survey (NRS) and the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) could achieve for the Indian print industry. However, for many years the fraternity was unable to unite and get the two surveys on the same platform. Good sense on both sides has finally prevailed, and the deadlock has been finally broken. The Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC) and the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) are all set to sign the agreement announcing the merger of the NRS and IRS within the next two weeks.
MRUC owns the IRS, while the ABC is fronting NRS on behalf of the National Readership Studies Council (NRSC). The newly merged entity, which is understood to be a partnership of equals between MRUC and ABC, is called Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI). The new readership survey under the aegis of RSCI would continue to be called IRS in order to leverage the continuity of the brand that the IRS has become for the Indian print industry in the last many years. However, the new survey would be embellished with more value addition and greater refinement in the research methodology to make it more accurate, which has been the biggest drawback of the current IRS.
Speaking to exchange4media, ABC’s Chairman, Vijay Darda, stated, “This move is in the larger interest of the print industry. By combining the resources that would be independently invested in these two surveys, the industry would get a robust, credible and authentic data source that would become the single currency for the industry.”
While Darda divulged that there were no technical issues pending any further and the agreement would be signed soon, MRUC’s Vice Chairman, Hormusji Cama, took a more guarded stand, and stated, “The MRUC has decided to not comment on the matter until the agreement is signed.”
The conversation for the IRS and NRS merger had first begun in August 2009, when the MRUC and the NRSC had, in principle, agreed to merge the two surveys. The two associations had also appointed a joint task force to see the decision through. The current draft agreement to be signed by both the organisations is based on the recommendations of this taskforce.
Ashish Bagga (CEO, India Today Group), who represents the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), and Sam Balsara (Chairman, Madison World), who represents the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), were unavailable for comments at the time of filing the report.
While the data from the RSCI would be called IRS, it promises to be significantly value added to build accuracy and robustness and be a true gold standard for the Indian print industry, as the new survey progresses in time. All points of disagreement in the current IRS that also includes the data’s inability to address specialist publications and periodicals would be taken care of in the new research.
Darda told exchange4media, “I would specially like to point out the work done by Hormusji Cama, Ashish Bagga, Sam Balsara, Ravi Dhariwal (CEO-Publishing, Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd) and MRUC’s Lloyd Mathais to make this merger happen.”
Needless to say, the merged NRS-IRS or the RSCI is a giant step forward for the Indian print industry. Not only will this give the industry a robust currency that would further help the growth of the print domain, but this research would also help print players in an unprecedented manner in taking core business decisions.