Shital Vij, Chief Editor of Dainik Savera Times, which says it is the top Hindi language daily in Punjab, feels that the MRUCI-run Indian Readership Survey (IRS) has been riddled with anomalies when it comes to capturing the overall readership of the paper.
In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Vij said the paper has much higher circulation compared to the readership number recorded in the survey.
â€śAs per the IRS, we have very low readership in Amritsar and Jalandhar. Whereas, the maximum circulation of the paper is in these two cities,â€ť Vij said. He said the paper has maximum readership in the urban centres, whereas the IRS shows it is in the rural areas.
He said that not only his paper, other growing papers are also losing out on advertising as media planners are not aware of their numbers. Vij said he raised the issue several times with MRUCI but there has been no recourse.
Vij said regional publishing is suffering a lot because of this anomaly.
The latest ABC numbers established that Dainik Savera Times is the most circulated daily in Punjab ahead of the oldest player Punjab Kesari. What did it take beyond content to achieve this feat?
Dainik Savera Times, which found its beginning in August 2011, has today grown to become the first choice of millions of readers in the northern region who turn to it daily for news information, entertainment and analysis. It is the fastest-growing newspaper of the country and has presence in six states â€” Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi/NCR with 23 editions and a circulation of more than 7.31 lakh copies per day. The circulation of the Jalandhar edition as per ABC is 361,217 copies per day. The circulation of four major Hindi newspapers in Punjab is 915,538 copies as per Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and we feel highly obliged to tell you that the circulation of our newspaper caters to 35% of the total market share. It is strongly backed up by the Rs 5,000-crore Shital Group of Industries from Punjabâ€™s Jalandhar.
While you are the most circulated daily in Punjab, what is wrong with the readership numbers?
Thatâ€™s a question that should be asked to IRS. And we have done that more than just once or twice. However, the problem still persists, even now, after more than two years. Our readership figures in urban centres such as Amritsar and Jalandhar, which contribute the maximum to our circulation, are the lowest. Whereas our rural readership seems to have grown by over 800% over the last nine months, despite rural Punjab not being a prime market for Dainik Savera. So, obviously there is a gross mismatch, which remains inexplicable even to any lay person.
It is almost one reader per copy if we compare IRS and ABC numbers. Is it believable for a Hindi newspaper?
Thatâ€™s the point. Our ABC certificate of circulation shows consistent and acceptable growth every six months, somewhat in accordance with our expectations and our own production figures. However, the readership numbers are grossly underestimated.
Isnâ€™t it an issue of masthead recall among readers? What corrective measures have you taken?
It cannot be only a matter of masthead recall. It has to be more factors, and we feel that this is a sampling issue â€“ and a serious one at that. It can potentially cause opportunity losses to the tune of a many millions. And as mentioned, we have drawn the attention of the IRS to this, but it has yet to yield any correction.
We are told Dainik Savera Times recorded â€śzeroâ€ť readership in Jalandhar from where it gets published. Our readers would like to know what could be the reasons and what is the clarification by MRUC regarding this?
MRUC claims that there is some readership in Amritsar and Jalandhar, but the incidence of our readership in their sample seems to be very low, and as per them, this is the reason why the readership figure does not show in the basic first-level reports of the IRS output. And strangely enough, this problem has happened only in the last round of IRS (2019 Q4). That is bad enough, but we must mention here that even prior to this, in the last few rounds of the IRS survey, (IRS 2019 Q1 to Q3) also, the readership figures of DST thrown up by the IRS, in Amritsar, Jalandhar and other urban centres, were abysmally low.
Are you satisfied with MRUCâ€™s response?
Certainly not. And itâ€™s not that we are looking for any compensation as such so far. To begin with, an admission of folly and an assurance towards course correction would have been in order. And yet, the only satisfactory response would be to ensure that the problem is corrected, by looking into the issue of skewed sampling, more closely at the time of the fieldwork.
Where is your readership coming from â€” rural or urban?
Most of our circulation is in urban centres â€” even as per the ABC. So, should our readership.
How are you planning to take this matter up because it will continue to deter your local advertisers in the cities you have got â€śzeroâ€ť readership?
Whatever we do, can and will only have a limited reach. We are trying to educate our advertisers, about the fallacies in the IRS â€” and about the unaccounted/lost readership, especially those advertisers who are savvy enough about media planning and the readership methodology. But that is a long haul. On a parallel basis, we are also pursuing the matter with MRUC with the hope that things will correct â€” not only with regard to our publication, but for all those growing newspapers that pay for inclusion in the survey. We hope it can bring them a fair share of advertising.