Newspapers cope with dwindling readership

Business City

Reports show that the Average Issue Readership (AIR) percentage has declined from 16.1  percent to 13.8 percent.

KOLKATA: The newspaper industry struggled to make ends meet as its sales went down in the financial year 2019-20. The latest report by the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) indicates the changing trends in the print media. 

Ramesh Singh, a newspaper seller at Deckers Lane in Kolkata said he sells four to five copies a day now, compared to 10 to 15 copies that he used to sell earlier. “I earn less than a hundred rupees in a day,” he added.

According to the IRS report, West Bengal showed a sharp decline in Average Issue Readership (AIR) percentages which fell from 9.5 percent during the period of December 2018 to March 2019 to 8.9 percent in the next year. The AIR of Times of India has decreased from 3,23,000 to 2,92,000 during the above-mentioned period of 2019 in Kolkata, stated the same report. 

Somnath Bhattacharjee, Deputy Manager of Result and Marketing Division (RMD) in Times of India said, “People of the younger generation mostly procure news from digital platforms.,” They are not habituated to reading newspapers, he feels.

However, he anticipates that the print media will be back on its feet in the foreseeable future because of the credibility it offers compared to other platforms. 

Other regional top dailies enlisted in the IRS report like Anada Bazar Patrika, Sangbad Pratidin, Ei Samay have also shown a decline in readership. Anada Bazar Patrika whose AIR was 34,06,000 during December 2018 to March 2019 declined to 30,32,000 in the next year.

Kamalika Sengupta, Assistant Editor at News 18 Bangla, said, “The reason for the circulation in print media going down is because of its lack in immediacy.” Digital platforms allow readers to read stories instantly as and when they are updated, which happens every hour, she added. 

Another reason, she mentioned, was the rumour that spread in the month of March, that Covid-19 could transmit through newspapers. There was an immense decline in the circulation of newspapers due to this perceived threat of the pandemic, she added. 

As per the Indian Readership Survey, dated May 8, 2020, the consumption of digital media has seen a significant rise while newspapers have declined by two2 percent. The viewership for TV, Radio, and digital has increased by seven percent, 11 percent, and 123 percent respectively.