The results of the second round, of the Indian Readership Survey (IRS, R2, 2009) for this year are out, and the picture is dismal for Himachal. Newspaper and magazine readership in Himachal has seen a major decline across periodicity and across languages. However, this has to be seen in context of circulation figures of newspapers, as readership is calculated on basis of a sample size, which represents the universe of 54,41,000 individuals in the state. Meanwhile, it can be contested that circulation figures too can be fudged by publication houses by bringing out extra copies and selling them as raddi.
As literacy grows, Himachalis are reading fewer publications. The maximum loss has been borne by Hindi newspapers, which have lost 29,000 average issue readers (AIR) since R1, 2009, when the category’s AIR was 9.42 lakh. While MRUC (Media Research Users Council) that conducts the readership survey, does suggest usage of total readership (TR), which includes casual readers like in shops or as guests, advertisers and media buyers vouch for average issue readers, i.e. regular readers. They argue that anything outside average issue readers cannot be ascertained and can be a spillover. We’ll here go by AIR.
English dailies too have lost an AIR of 3,000, down from 72,000 in R1. In terms of percentage points, the biggest loss has come to English monthlies, which have shed more than 20 per cent AIR. The only gainers in Himachal is the English Weekly category that has added 3,000 average issue readers to its R1 count of 16,000 a gain 18.75 per cent.
While it’s gloom throughout, three publications have something to cheer about. Divya Himachal in the Hindi dailies category and The Tribune and The Times of India in the English dailies category have gained substantial readers. The top two – Amar Ujala and Punjab Kesari, though have retained the leadership position in the Hindi dailies category, both have tanked 22,000 average issue readers, respectively. Their loss seems to be the gain of Divya Himachal, which has gained 42,000 readers, a gain of more than 47 per cent. Dainik Jagran too has had an AIR loss of 10,000.
In the English dailies category, Hindustan Times is the biggest loser, which has lost 7,000 average issue readers. In percentage points the loss is more than 30 per cent. Himachal readers seem to be showing some interest in business news too, as Economic Times, from the Times of India group has added an AIR 1,000, since R1 to take the figure up to 4,000. In percentage points, the gain is above 33 per cent.
(Figures above are ‘000s)
The Tribune and The Times of India, both, have gained an AIR of 2,000 and 3,000 respectively. In spite of the loss, The Tribune is still the leader in the state, with an AIR of 47,000. How much desperate the youth of the state are to become IAS officers or join HAS – the state’s own civil services, is evident from the fact that the No 2 English publication in the state, after The Tribune is not Hindustan Times, nor Times of India, but Competition Success Review, which has an AIR of 45,000, a loss of 2,000, since R1, 2009.
R1 survey is for the period July – December 2008 and R2 survey is for the period January – June 2009
This is a guest post by Juiin.