The Indian newspaper industry faces headwinds in the shape of declining advertising revenue and Covid-19 induced economic slowdown. In recent months there have been massive retrenchments and salary cuts in the newspaper industry. However, a recent survey report by consultancy firm EY, says that newspapers remain the most trusted news source. EY surveyed more than 4,000 consumers across metro and non-metro markets.
According to the survey conducted from 22 June 2020 to 4 July 2020 of more than 4,000 respondents, 35% of the respondents trusted newspapers most. At the same time, 16% said they believed TV news most, while 20% said they trusted online news the most. The remaining 28% of the respondents said they trust all these media sources.
Circulation still far from normal
The survey attempted to determine what percentage of respondents were getting newspapers at home. During the early phases of the lockdown that came into effect on 25 March, a large part of the metro and non-metro cities did not receive newspapers. The metro cities like Mumbai and Delhi were especially affected.
The survey found out the situation has still not come back to normal in terms of newspaper circulation. According to the study, only 32% of metro respondents are currently getting newspapers at home, while 65% of non-metro respondents are getting their newspapers delivered at their doorstep.
The survey also captured the trend in terms of time spent on reading a newspaper. It found out that 42% of respondents in non-metro markets spend more than 20 minutes reading a paper compared to 36% in metros.
The lockdown has resulted in the digital economy getting a boost. Expectedly, a large chunk of respondents, from both metro and non-metro cities, said that they were consuming news online. As per the survey, 77% of the respondents in the metros and 75% in the non-metro cities were consuming news online.
EY said that the online survey of 4,074 respondents was conducted across 2,017 in metros and 2,057 in non-metros from 22 June 2020 to 4 July 2020. The cities covered were Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Bangalore, Bhagalpur, Bhopal, Bikaner, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gwalior, Hissar, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Muzaffarpur, Patna, Pune, Raipur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Rohtak, Surat, Udaipur, Ujjain, and Vadodara.
EY’s survey corroborates IppStar’s quick survey of newspapers
In a recent webinar, representatives of major newspapers tried to talk up the recovery of the print news media, claiming their circulation has returned to 85 or 92% of pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels. However, IppStar’s quick survey of Indian language dailies in North and South India corroborates the more credible numbers of the EY Survey.
Naresh Khanna, principal researcher of IppStar says, “Hindi and Tamil dailies at least, have not yet reached even 75% of their pre-lockdown circulations. One of the tricks used in the webinar by the representatives of major news organizations was to say that 85 to 90% of their circulations have come back, but they slipped in the caveat or rider of ‘household circulations.’
As our respondents have clarified, the single copies sold by street news vendors and shops and those distributed in railway stations and airports are not included in the base figures for calculating their recovery of circulations to pre-lockdown levels. The EY Survey which cites even lower recovery of daily circulations is a very useful dose of realism.”