After print players, now radio operators find flaws in latest IRS data

Even as print players gave voice to their disapproval of the latest IRS 2013 results, radio operators are also expressing concern that the data & methodology used for measuring radio listenership is deeply flawed too

e4m by Abhinna Shreshtha
Updated: Feb 4, 2014 8:49 AM
After print players, now radio operators find flaws in latest IRS data

The latest Indian Readership Survey findings have come under intense flak from the print players. Now, even radio operators have flayed the survey findings. As is known, the radio survey is a subset of the larger Indian Readership Survey jointly commissioned by the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) and the Research Studies Council of India (RSCI), and carried out by market research firm The Nielsen. The radio operators that exchange4media spoke to have dismissed the findings of the survey as “impossible” and “deeply flawed”.

One radio operator informed that the survey claims that listenership is estimated to have dropped around 30-40 per cent, a fact we could not verify ourselves as the report has not been made publically available yet. In fact, a number of players we spoke to claimed that they haven’t received the numbers themselves.

With many of the radio stations apparently not having received the report, there is still a lot of confusion about what the report actually states and how dubious the numbers really are. However, the general sentiment in the industry seems to be that the numbers are highly unreliable. A spokesperson for another radio station with a national presence said that though the report was received, they were contacted and asked not to refer to it as a revised version would be released tomorrow. It should be noted here that print players have given MRUC until today (February 4, 2014) evening to withdraw the IRS report (INS likely to meet MRUC today to discuss latest IRS data).

Apart from doubts about the validity of the report, questions have also been raised about the new survey methodology used by AC Nielsen, as well as the small sample size on which the survey is based.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the head of one radio channel said, “The base study is print, radio is just a corollary and a small part to it, and if the print survey is so flawed, what can one expect from the radio numbers?” He further added that the level of difference between the last listenership survey conducted just months back and this one is impossible to believe. The programming director of a radio station based in the South said, “I have personally not seen the numbers, but after speaking with others, it seems that the survey has thrown up some peculiar figures, which are completely different from the previous studies. Of course, there can always be certain unexpected trends that crop up, but you don’t expect to see so much of difference. Even the print report had so many mistakes, so I suppose it is the same case with the radio numbers.”

Another senior member of the radio ecosystem commented, “We have always been against the methodology used in radio listenership surveys.” When asked about his views on the report’s claims that listenership has dropped by an estimated 30-40 per cent, he labeled it “absurd”. “Everyone can see that radio’s popularity has grown,” he added. The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), meanwhile, said that they are yet to receive feedback from members. It is understood that AROI members will be meeting to review the IRS results in the coming days, but it seems the industry body’s stance is to not lend much credence to it.

With a revised report expected to be sent across to radio operators tomorrow, we will probably have more clarity on the numbers that the survey has thrown up. Keep following this space for more details.

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