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IRAM – The only hope for Indian Radio Audience Measurement Industry?
Indian radio audience measurement

  1. A transparent and most reliable system having survey methodology published in the public domain.
  2. TAM Media Research’s periodical surveys limited to 4 Metro Cities only.
  3. No Integrated listenership data available, advertisers do not have any real data for making decisions.

Radio is one of the most dominating forms of Media for over a century for both listeners and advertisers. Around the globe, countries have unified radio audience measurement systems or radio currencies to monitor the reach, total listening hours and demographics of the radio listeners, which help radio stations plan their programming and advertisements to focus on listeners and enhance the profitability of their advertisers. But India on the other hand, still count on a measurement system of a single agency, which advertisers do not find reliable at all. (1)

Since the beginning of private radio stations in India in the early 2000s, only TAM Media research conducts radio audience measurement on private FM Radio channels. It uses a paper diary method to measure Radio listenership with a panel size of 600 individuals each in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. There is no integrated listenership data available either for AIR private FM radio channels. Thus, the advertisers do not have any real data for making decisions relating to the placement of advertisements in various channels. (2)

A few stakeholders have voiced concerns about the inadequate coverage and panel size if the radio audience measurement by TAM Media Research.

The radio rating system is liable to hamper the growth of the radio industry and it is important that a credible, transparent and representative radio audience measurement system is put in place. Incorrect radio ratings may lead to encouraging the production of content which may not be really popular while good content and programs may be adversely impacted on account of misplaced ratings. (3)

The Beacon of Hope

As the saying goes where there is a vision, there is hope, so recently help came in the form of IRAM Radio headed by Dr. Avtar Lit to the Indian radio industry by publishing truly independent listening figures for each radio station in India.

Avtar lit is no strangers to the radio industry as he was the first licensee of Indian radio station anywhere in the world in 1989 in the UK.

In fact, he and his associates successfully bid and won 3 stations in each of these following cities Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Madras, and Bangalore in the first wave of FM licensing.

Avtar lit was an advisor to Pramod Mahajan, then the minister for information and broadcasting in India.

But at the last hurdle Lit was informed by the Indian Government that he was not Indian enough having British passport a condition missing in the bidding documents.

Lit went back to London disappointed telling newspapers at the time it was not a waste of time or money but service to his mother country.

Now he is back in India to help the radio industry to grow and has created a measurement infrastructure truly independent which he says will benefit radio stations as well as advertisers but freely admits that stations claiming to be number one may not be entirely happy.

IRAM Methodology

IRAM currently conducts surveys across 107 cities all over India and has divided these cities into four categories based on population in the total survey area and conducts telephonic surveys (using guidelines of TRAI Chapter 2 Radio Audience Measurement technologies and International Experience 2.1.1 telephonic Survey Method).

In the Establishment survey it was decided (statistically) that the following number of people will be surveyed in each categorized city:

Category A (10 Million + Potential Listeners):  2500 listeners per Quarter

Category B (5-10 Million Potential Listeners):  1250 listeners per Quarter

Category C (3-5 Million Potential Listeners):  500 listeners per Quarter

Category D (Up to 3 Million Potential Listeners):  250 listeners per Quarter

Hence, the smallest sample for a station on IRAM is 1000 adults over 12 months, for stations with a TSA (Total Survey Area) under 1,000,000. The stations of metro cities report on a quarterly sample of approximately 10,000 adults over 12 months, with each respondent only participating once. Whereas, other agency’s surveys are based on 600 adults per quarter per cities only. (4)

IRAM conducts surveys for both private radio stations and stations of AIR. Although, entries of people listening to community radio stations are also recorded but not included in final figures. Surveys are conducted on a quarterly basis and release dates are published on the website. The whole system is developed based on deep research and designed to benefit radio stations, advertisers and listeners.

Lit claims true figures will benefit everyone.

Figures published for the first, second and third quarter of 2019 are startling by numbers who do not listen to the radio.

Lit says that is a wonderful starting point for any radio station boss because taking listeners away from another station is 5 times more difficult than converting non-listeners to your station.

Lit says IRAM Radio survey is free for top-line figures but also gives detailed listening habits by gender, age group, and economics demographics for subscribers.

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