Jaldi 5 with Paritosh Joshi, IRS TechCom head: Await one more round before arriving at judgement

29 Jan,2014

The best way to get Paritosh Joshi to respond is to your mail is to write to him in Verdana, 10 points. We did exactly that, with a request to respond to our questions on the Indian Readership Survey (IRS). Mr Joshi is head of the MRUC’s technical committee as also a member of the core technical committee of BARC. With an eye for detail – in research methodology, numbers and words, the broadcast industry captain was heading to the capital for the Delhi leg of the IRS announcements when MxMIndia requested him for this quick Q&A:


01. From RFP to the release yesterday, the new-look IRS has taken a while in making. The fact that it has been released indicates you are satisfied with it, but are you happy with the way the entire process has gone?

Yes, I am. This edition was not easily constructed. A brand new JIC, RSCI had just been formed after years of inconclusive dialogue. The legacy study was discredited for suspect fieldwork and overburdened by ad hoc modules. Negotiating through all this history and delivering a completely overhauled study less than a year after the final release of the old edition has been very satisfying.


02. It has surely thrown up some surprises with some sharp rises and exits from the top performers list for some? For instance, Hindustan forging ahead of Dainik Bhaskar, Mid-Day being among the Top 10 English dailies and dna exiting that list.

I am of the view that as a TechCom person, I have to do the best possible job of design and process management. The numbers are outcomes that distill the voice of respondents. I will add that any audience measure only makes sense as a time series. I would humbly urge all stakeholders to let at least one more round be published before arriving at judgement.


03. In fact, dna has put out a front-page note below the masthead questioning the data put out. While one is not questioning the credibility, integrity and intent of anyone, how can we explain such sharp variance from the last study findings?

Our study release notes are at pains to explain the big changes not just in design and data gathering but even in key definitions. I might add that we jettisoned the old model precisely because it had been repeatedly questioned for ethics and methodology. If it is now being held up as a standard of evaluation for the new study, we need never have gone to all this effort.


04. In terms of the data thrown up, there’s a fair bit beyond the hard numbers. Although it may not be your concern as technical committee head, but the true advantages of the new IRS study will be realized only if the data is employed optimally? Are subscribers being educated on how to use the data?

Our curtain-raiser yesterday was very emphatic on this subject. There are mountains of data that IRS gathers and the only ones that get attention are the AIR numbers. The deep insights, though, lie in demographics, product linkage, media mix consumption patterns and so on. I don’t think RSCI or MRUC can really conduct training sessions for this but anyone who plays around with the data will readily find all this material.


05. As a media practitioner, what according to you is the biggest takeaway from the new IRS?

Our practices in the Audience Measurement Sciences are dated and in urgent need of overhaul. If we want the underlying media markets to grow, we cannot afford to ignore measurement.


06. One last question:  chairing the technical committee at MRUC or being part of the core techcom at BARC is a thankless job. It’s like being secretary of your housing society. And there’s no money to be made either, at least officially. It’s obviously prestigious and satisfying, but wouldn’t you be rather doing something more fun. Potter around the house, play golf, write a book?

The pottering and writing happens anyway (don’t play golf but I DO run). The joy of giving something back to the industry that has given me so much is a reward in and of itself but the ability to stay abreast of everything and connected with all the participants in the business is a huge cherry and icing on that confection.


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