Despite a long innings in the fourth estate, one has never trusted the so-called professional readership surveys — ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) or Indian Readership Survey (IRS). Therefore none of the path-breaking news magazines helmed by your editor — Business India, Businessworld, Debonair and EducationWorld — ever invited the grey men of ABC or IRS to certify circulation and/or readership. Deep in their hearts all advertisers are aware of legendary ad guru David Ogilvy’s pithy observation that 50 percent of all advertising expenditure is a waste of money, except nobody knows which 50 percent, and so they advertise according to their own judgement rather on the basis of inherently suspicious IRS and ABC data.
This suspicion of jugaad-style data collection is vindicated by the latest TRP (television rating points) scam involving ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd which owns Republic, the 24×7 English language news channel helmed by the company’s promoter, and prime time news anchor Arnab Goswami. According to Mumbai Police, managers of the company have been bribing heads of households in which TRP meters are installed, to keep the Republic TV channel running all day long. This results in the channel recording high viewership which in turn attracts greater ad revenue. Now following a Central government order, this swindle is being investigated by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) as well.
Given the slapdash TV channels viewership measurement methodology, this was a scandal waiting to happen. The number of TRP meters installed by BARC (Broadcast And Research Council) in Mumbai (pop. 20 million) total a mere 4,400. Inevitably this egregiously small list of households was leaked and dozens of households were suborned by bonuses-driven executives of TV companies to leave their channels beaming for hours on end. Similarly IRS field personnel reportedly quiz small numbers of sample respondents to identify logos and/or mastheads of newspapers and magazines and classify them as routine readers.
Against this the methodology and large number (11,000-15,000) of sample respondents interviewed for the annual EducationWorld rating and ranking of schools, preschools and higher education institutions is refreshingly large and reassuring.
Also read: EW India School rankings 2020-21 (Part 1)