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Shaken, but not stirred

How does one measure radio listnership? Not easily.

Shamni Pande        Print Edition: October 21, 2007

If debate is what the Market Research Users Council (MRUC) was looking at when it released its report finding holes in the Diarybased method, then it seems to be in for a surprise as many radio stake holders continue to stick to their set of respective beliefs. In a pilot study conducted in Mumbai to check the efficiency of the Diary system and the electronic system using day-after-recall (DAR), MRUC took a sample size of 1,270 respondents, both male and female, in the age group of 20-39 years. Overall it did coincidental checks in two parts: those found listening radio and those not found listening radio. It found that 85 per cent of the respondents misreporting results or wrongly recording their results.

The report admits that the Diary method reports higher listenership across time bands, but at the cost of accuracy. The DAR methodology, though not entirely accurate, scores significantly in capturing accurate listenership behaviour.

For its part, Radio Audience Measurement—a division of TAM Media Research and a joint service between IMRB International and Nielsen Media Research, which uses the Diary system—sticks to the advantages of its methodology. “The content creators can take the help of continuous data to not just profile audiences, but also track their behaviour by slot programmes/ songs/contest and also check for the effectiveness of re-runs thereby manage inventory very well,” it said in response to BT’s query. According to it, these are the practical reasons why even today most markets worldwide Diary rules over DAR methodology.

Meanwhile, the industry continues to stick by its set of stated beliefs. “If over 90 per cent of the countries across the world use the Diary method with the balance using the electronic system, then I see no reason why we should reconsider the Diary system,” says Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City.

A long time challenger of the Diary system, Prashant Panday, deputy CEO of Entertainment Network India, (read: Radio Mirchi) feels that it’s foolish for the country to lapse back to a dated methodology. “It’s an old technology and most countries that use the Diary method are now beginning to shift to the electronic system of measurement,” he says.

But there are also others who think it’s good to have a debate on the issue. “It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I do support the Diary system, but I think it needs debate and we also need a dialogue on pricing issues,” says Anil Srivatsa, COO, Radio Today.

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