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INS gives ultimatum; MRUC to meet tomorrow

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The revamped Indian Readership Survey (IRS) was supposed to create a new paradigm, but has instead turned out to be a nightmare for Media Research Users Council (MRUC).

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) today issued an ultimatum to MRUC, a not-for-profit body of advertisers, advertising agencies, publishers and broadcasters, to withdraw IRS 2013 within 24 hours or face total rejection of the findings of the survey by the publishers.

Indiantelevision.com had reported earlier that the INS representatives would be meeting officials from MRUC today to discuss issues raised by publishers. Today's meeting was held in two rounds: the first meeting had print publishers discuss the future course of action while the second one delivered the ultimatum to MRUC.

The INS is unwilling to climb down from its demand for complete withdrawal of the survey within 24 hours, the contract for which was given to Nielsen.

The INS representatives attending the meeting were unanimous in their demand for complete withdrawal of the IRS 2013 survey as the first corrective step. The publishers raised several questions regarding the methodology and mechanism based on which the survey findings were arrived at.

To decide on what should be MRUC’s next course of action, its officials will have a meeting with the Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI), a joint body of MRUC and Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). INS Newspaper Society Chairman Mohit Jain confirmed the news and said: “We have also asked MRUC to conduct an extraordinary meeting tomorrow at 11.30 am and decide about today’s discussions.”

“What happens next will be decided tomorrow by the RSCI,” says IRS Technical Committee Chairman Paritosh Joshi, who is personally saddened by the way things are taking shape.

Sources say if MRUC fails to take action, INS may issue an advisory to its members asking them not to subscribe to IRS in the future and also not to use the mast heads of their newspapers in future surveys, and may consider supporting some newspapers going to court against the findings to get a stay order on the use of the latest IRS numbers by media planners and advertisers.

A group of 18 publishers, which include The Times of India, Dainik Jagran, Bhaskar, India Today, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Lokmat, Outlook, Daily News and Analysis (DNA), Sakshi, The Hindu, Amar Ujala, The Tribune, Bartaman Patrika, Aaj Samaj, The Statesman, Mid Day, Nai Duniya and Dinakaran, have been vocal about their dismay with the numbers.

The publishers felt that there was arbitrary decline in aggregate readership of certain publications. A majority of the publications are negatively affected by the 2013 survey which is based on a new methodology.

Sources from the print industry shared the data, which shows how particular publications lost their Average Issue Readership (AIR) in a drastic way in some states.

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