The dispute over the results of the Indian Readership Survey 2013 has come to a head. With the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) standing by the survey in a statement last evening, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has told its members to reject the report.
On Monday, the apex body of print publishers, INS, had asked the MRUC to withdraw the findings or else its members would be compelled to unsubscribe from the IRS in future. It gave the MRUC 24 hours to meet its demands.
The turn that the IRS controversy has taken is unexpected because it is a survey that has involved the industry. The IRS, the largest continuous readership survey in the world, was carried out by The Nielsen Company. However, this came about following the creation of the RSCI (Readership Studies Council of India) jointly by the MRUC and the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) in November 2011.
At the time, 20 senior representatives of advertisers, agencies and publishers who served on the RSCI Managing Committee and sub-committees participated in the process of shortlisting the research agency. Another two dozen professionals were involved in the technical deliberations.
It is difficult to see at this point how the positions of the antagonists can be reconciled. It is also unclear what yardstick will be used by print buyers to measure readership in the months to come.