TV penetration growth flat, cinema negative, radio & print positive: NRS 2003

MUMBAI: The long-awaited and much-discussed National Readership Survey 2003 has hardly rung in cheer this Yuletide season for media.


 At an all-India level, media reach according to NRS 03 has registered no significant change over NRS 2002. Instead, penetration of cinema has slipped by three per cent, while that of cable and satellite (C&S) has remained constant at 20 per cent. Incidentally, in 2002, cable penetration had shown an increase by 31 per cent over the earlier year.

The NRS 2003 findings show that overall a little more than half the adult population can now be reached through terrestrial television, while one fourth can be reached through print. Print is one medium that has grown, albeit by six per cent, and the growth is lower than the population growth of 14 per cent.

Zooming in on urban India, NRS 03 reveals that the onset of FM Radio has given the radio sector a boost, with the medium registering a five per cent increase in penetration. All other media penetration has either remained constant or - to the chagrin of the industry - dropped. Print, in the urban regions, has grown by 8 percent.

Readership goes downhill

Readership figures of several publications have shown downward trends in the top level findings of phase one of NRS 2003, released over the weekend.

India Today, from the Living Media group, it is learnt, has slipped from a readership of 55,00,000 to 44,00,000 in the last one year. Outlook and The Week have maintained their readership figures though. Femina, the women's magazine from the Times of India (TOI) stable too has slipped considerably to settle at a readership figure of 11,00,000, it is learnt.

India Today and Filmfare are the only English magazines amongst the top 10 magazines in India - and the drop of India Today is relatively higher than Filmfare, the findings indicate. Interestingly, the southern magazines show a significant growth.

Till last year, the NRS had been drawn up using the 1991 census as the base and by projecting the increased population. This time, however, the results have been arrived at using the 2001 census, causing a considerable upset in readership figures, say sources.

Industry insiders say several players are likely to address this issue and take up the matter once the data is studied.

Who's Number One?

Meanwhile, both The Hindustan Times (HT) and TOI are claiming to be Number One in Delhi. The TOI, of course, believes in tom-tomming facts, which was evident in a hurriedly called press conference in Delhi late Sunday in a five-star hotel.

According to Rahul Kansal, director of TOI brand, "We have a readership of 1.432 million against the 1.327 million of Hindustan Times (in Delhi). The number two position is held by Navbharat Times with 1.431 million readership."

Flaunting the NRS data, Kansal said that in the socio-economic class (SEC) A section, TOI leads with a readership of 959,000 readers, while HT was at 440,000 . Kansal also pointed out that TOI leads with a readership base of 568,000 against 485,000 of HT if readers from the age group of 12-24 years are taken into account.

While TOI's Delhi edition sported the No 1 tag in the masthead itself, HT too in a self-congratulatory report took a swipe at the competition. "Take The Times of India. Delhi's number two paper stays away from the ABC. Every other edition of the newspaper is duly registered and accepts the circulation figures certified by the body. But TOI refuses to get its Delhi circulation certified. Result: when we try and compare the Delhi circulation we get HT: 9,72,279; TOI: 0," the report states.

Pointing out that it is "time to celebrate once again", the HT report further says, "HT's position is undisputed. It's also never challenged on the basis of hard circulation data. Pretenders to the No 1 spot use other ways to confuse unsuspecting readers."

It goes on to say, "For the record, the last time the TOI's circulation was certified by the ABC, HT's Delhi edition was 2,26,766 copies ahead. Could it be that Delhi's number two newspaper doesn't want to stand up and be counted by the ABC now because it doesn't sell enough for its No 1 ambitions?"

With an inkling about the squabble between the top two publications of India, the readers of TOI and HT can take their own stand on the issue!

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