IRS 2013 in indefinite abeyance. Comment: Win-win for no one. Print will lose big sans measurement

02 Apr,2014

By A Correspondent


The choice of the word indefinite may indicate that it could months or years, but if you read the statement from the MRUC director-general Shaswati Saradar and juxtapose it with the way things actually work, the end to the controversy is decidedly not near.


First the statement:

Headlined: RSCI MRUC decision on IRS 2013


Main copy: RSCI Managing Committee and MRUC Board met yesterday and considered the preliminary report of the sub-committee appointed by them to critically assess the Indian Readershsip Study 2013.


RSCI and MRUC accepted the finding of the sub-committee that the methodology and process adopted were robust. They approved the recommendation of the sub-committee that the revalidation and audit of field work by a third party commence immediately and be completed within four to six weeks.


The IRS 2013 report will remain in abeyance until this process is completed.


The document is signed by Ms Saradar.


What we read from this:

1, As reported by MxMIndia earlier, the IRS report is abeyance is still on. It’s not March 31, it now appears to be May 15 or 31.


2. The RSCI and MRUC feel that the methodology and process followed is robust. Of course this doesn’t mean that the sub-committee felt the same, but we think a strong affirmation could influence the third party appointed. It also ensures that Nielsen can’t be fired for a wrongdoing because it can always come back and say that the process and methodology had the MRUC/RSCI sign-off.


3. If the RSCI and MRUC indeed feel that its methodology and process are robust, so why then not go ahead with the status quo of a published report. Or is the field work not in order? Why take so much time for the review?


4. Who is the third party entrusted with the job of revalidation and audit of field work? A consulting firm like EY or KPMG, another research firm… the identity has not been revealed, but we can be sure it’s a ‘robust’ entity.


5. Four to six weeks is as vague as it can get. The February 19 statement said March 31 is the end-of-abeyance date. Assuming the R&A will take four to six weeks from March 31, that gets us to mid-May. Remember this is also a period when there are some chhuttis: Good Friday, Voting Day in Delhi, Voting Day in Mumbai, Labour Day/Maharashtra-Gujarat Day. Counting day is not a holiday thankfully, but don’t expect much/any work to be done that day. Last heard a well-known media company had already large screens and popcorn machines for the day.


6. We don’t know if Nielsen is continuing with the field work for the next round, but mid/end-May is the time when the next round will be published.


7. The legal tangles involving the MRUC are still on, and the final word from there could spin things around


8. The views of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) are not known on this.



The scrapping (okay, abeyance) isn’t good for publishing in India. It only gives a handle to advertisers and media buyers to shift monies from print to other media (esp digital).  It’s also very unfair on the players who have been performing very well over the last year. The laggards will prosper and the agile will lose out. The industry and some of its representatives have failed themselves and the rest of us. It’s a win-win for no one.


The industry seniors need to get together to hammer out a solution. Advertisers are already of the belief that digital reaches out better to the youth and urban set than newspapers, and wouldn’t mind playing around with cheaper buys.  Social media is most effective with a call-for-action and its virtues for brand-building are being noticed. Radio as a medium may not come very cheap but is indeed very effective for the retail trade. Once news happens, radio will get a lot more engaging.  And television’s virtues are well-known.


Bottomline:  Let’s stop the ullu-banoing.  Kill IRS and you kill yourself. The industry needs to understand this.  It’s time the INS or the publishers get together and arrive at a consensus and a way out of the mess.




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