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FM players slam IRS 2009 R2 findings; call for industry-backed metric

16-February-2010
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FM players slam IRS 2009 R2 findings; call for industry-backed metric

It’s been nearly a month since the IRS 2009 R2 data for radio was released, and the FM players are not very gung ho about it. What they find difficult to believe is how a rapidly growing medium could see a decline in listenership.

While My FM chose not to rely on the data at all, Radio Choklate, which is fairly happy with the survey results, has shared the findings with its clients. Radio City used the data to look at the broad reach figures, the time spent listening to the medium, and so on. Big FM, on the other hand, called for an urgent requirement for a more robust measurement system to meet the growing non-metro markets needs.

FM stations have come down heavily on the IRS 2009 R2 findings, with one player even saying that IRS was primarily for the print media and not radio. exchange4media spoke to some FM players to find out how they have utilised the IRS 2009 R2 data, whether the six months data had any significance for the FM stations and whether they had any wishlists from the IRS.

What irks them about IRS

Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, said, “The data for Radio City has been very positive. In the markets where Radio City is present, we are a clear No. 2 network with a reach far higher than the No. 3 player. We are extremely happy, especially with the results in the markets of Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. Having said that, from an industry perspective, the fact that the IRS data is not showing a growth in FM listenership, especially in this period where the medium has gone through a geographical expansion, is hard to believe.”

On the other hand, lashing out at the IRS, Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Media World Ltd, said, “IRS is a grossly erroneous measurement system, designed primarily for print readership. Its results clearly under-report radio listenership to the tune of 30 per cent less than customised radio measurement systems, having negative repercussions on the very nascent radio industry. It affects revenue generation, both presently and potentially, showcases de-growth of the industry, causes loss of employment, while also depriving the Tier II markets of a cost effective mode of advertising.”

Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM, said, “My FM had expressed displeasure over the IRS 2009 R2 data, which was released a month back, and the sentiments have stayed on. As a measurement system, the IRS is hardly reliable and we do not attach much significance to its results, which stated that the industry listenership had declined by 2.33 per cent. We are hopeful that the industry can soon agree upon a common currency for measurement.”

On a different note, Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Director, Eastern Media Ltd, said, “We are happy that on successive IRS results we consistently top it for the region. These are some interesting times for radio stations in this part of the country. I am expecting an important year ahead with the kind of growth we are witnessing with all radio stations here.”

Significance of six months data

Radio City’s Purohit observed, “Six-month data should be used in a rolling format and used to build trends. It is important to compare the same period data, rather than the previous six months and I believe this is a mistake many people make.”

Katial of Reliance Media World Ltd stressed, “There is an urgent requirement for a more robust measurement system, and while RAM is slated to expand to other metros, the growing non-metro markets need immediate redressal. Radio broadcasters are exploring alternate routes like the Rolling Diary formats, which work well internationally, offering greater accuracy of listener measurement through monthly or quarterly results.”

My FM’s Bhatia pointed out, “As radio is an evolving medium, six months data does not cater to the needs of the radio. The data should be more frequent, perhaps quarterly, and it should also be more comprehensive. The most important factor, however, is that the measurement currency should be common pan India.”

Patnaik noted, “Yes, six months have a lot of significance as research and any study always helps. Figures do lend you direction. Recently, a popular radio station has changed its ‘Stationality’, ‘Sweepers’, or so to say, the positioning of its brand name. While taking such a decision, an extended long term data and figure always help.”

Industry wishlist

Purohit’s expectation from the IRS is that, “It definitely needs to reexamine the overall industry listenership figures and increase granularity of information available.”

Bhatia said, “For IRS to be meaningful to the radio industry, it has to branch into dedicated research using reliable and mutually agreed methodology. Currently, the data only adds to the confusion in the industry.”

Patnaik’s wishlist included, “Expand to newer cities, and have a larger sample size. For example, they conduct only in main cities, not in the neighbouring areas/districts, which constitute major listenership.”

While some may be happy with the results, what irks most is the decline shown in listenership in a rapidly growing medium, while some find the results confusing. One of the industry wishlists for the IRS is releasing the data on a quarterly basis as six months data does not cater to the needs of the industry.

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