The National Readership Studies Council (NRSC), which brings out the National Readership Survey (NRS), will decide on a new field agency by the end of this month.
The decision will be the culmination of an elaborate selection procedure, which began about two months ago when the NRSC put out advertisements in major newspapers inviting applications from research agencies for the same.
More than fifty agencies, says Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison Communications, who is a member of the NRS Governing Council, responded to the advertisement.
Subsequently shortlisted agencies were asked to make presentations, and if sources in the know are to believed, then AC Nielsen and the combine of Raghu Roy, erstwhile head of ORG and CR Sridhar, CEO of WPP agency srs-icon, are in the reckoning for the coveted assignment.
Agencies who have been involved with the National Readership Survey so far include
IMRB, AC Nielsen and TNS. Unlike rival IRS or the Indian Readership Survey, which has a single agency doing field work, the NRS has had the above three working together to bring out the study.
Though the official line is that the field is still open and the body may go with one or more agencies - depending on the outcome of the final presentations, sources in the know indicate that NRSC is keen to consolidate field work and analysis with a single agency.
One reason for this, says a senior executive with a research company, is to minimise the risk of errors and consequent disgruntlement, which could arise on account of multiple agencies working on a single survey.
In the recent past, the NRSC has had to contend with discontentment from players such as Hindustan Times in Delhi, which was ranked as the number two English paper behind arch rival The Times of India in the much-delayed NRS 2003.
What followed was a spate of litigation that left the NRSC reeling under the dual pressure of bad press as well as legal action. The Council, since then, has managed to bury the hatchet and as the first step in the sprucing up act, it is trying to identify a new field agency.
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