The Economic Times has started what could trigger a major battle in the Print media, carrying a front-page report today suggesting that HT Media’s readership numbers are “unbelievable”

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | June 13, 2014

irs mruc rsci ET’s direct attack on HT heats up IRS debate again

The Economic Times has started what could trigger a major battle in the Print media, carrying a front-page report today suggesting that HT Media’s readership numbers are “unbelievable”. Although the controversy surrounding IRS 2013 is not new, BestMediaInfo.com could not verify the intention behind this article five months after the IRS data was put in abeyance. Also, a query sent to HT Media remained answered.

ET, in its article titled ‘All Down, HT Up. Entire Media Industry Foxed’, has mainly focused how Readers Per Copy (RPC) numbers in various parts of the country are unrealistic. Comparing the RPC numbers in the market where HT Media’s publications are circulated, ET has tried to establish that the readership of HT Media’s publications is not believable. ET also got Malcolm Mistry, CEO of DNA, to say that most publishers know that the HT figures are absurd.

The article claims: “The RPC of Hindustan Times, for instance, is a staggering 17 readers per copy in Noida, and 12 in Gurgaon. This is similar for key markets such as Mumbai and Delhi as well for HT and Mint, which has an RPC that’s double that of its nearest competitor in Delhi. Similarly, Hindustan has an RPC of 5.5, more than double that of rival dailies.”

In a graph titled ‘Read Between the Lines’ in the article, ET has tried to explain how Hindustan, the Hindi daily from HT Media, has managed to score an RPC of as high as 20 against its competition in Noida.

Questioning the authenticity of IRS data, ET wrote: “Even as most newspaper titles across genres show sharp declines, one media group has surprisingly bucked the trend across the board with a uniformly upward trajectory – the Hindustan Times group. Amongst the English national dailies, for instance, Hindustan Times saw its readership grow 13%. The three other top dailies (which had combined circulation almost three times that of HT in the 2012 round), all saw drops in readership. The Times of India fell by 5%, The Hindu by a staggering 32% and The Telegraph by a huge 26%.”

Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, Times Group, questioning the process of the new IRS, said, “The process of fieldwork in IRS is nowhere as tamper-proof as it should have been. We know of several areas where data could have been tampered with and have sent our concerns repeatedly to the IRS management.”

For the record, the findings of the new IRS are currently barred from release by a Delhi High Court order.

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