The print media will emerge stronger by our actions: Srinivasan Swamy, Chairman, Audit Bureau of Circulation

In conversation with Swamy, who was elected Chairman of the ABC for 2023-’24 last week, on the way forward for the only currency that exists for measurement of print media.

Srinivasan K Swamy, CMD of RK Swamy Limited, has been unanimously elected as the Chairman of Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) for 2023-2024.

Swamy currently serves as Chairman of Asian Federation of Advertising Associations. He has held leadership roles in the past as President / Chairman of International Advertising Association (IAA), IAA India Chapter, Confederation of Asian Advertising Agency Associations, Advertising Agencies Association of India, Advertising Standards Council of India, All India Management Association, Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Madras Management Association. He is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor and Director of Malayala Manorama, has been elected Deputy Chairman of the Bureau for the same period. Mohit Jain, Executive Director, Bennett, Coleman & Co., was elected Secretary of the Bureau. Vikram Sakhuja, Partner & Group CEO Media & OOH of Madison Communications, was re-elected Treasurer.

Among the members on the Bureau’s Council of Management for 2023-2024 are advertising agencies’ representatives Prasanth Kumar, Group M Media India and Vaishali Verma, Initiative Media India.

Publishers representatives include Pratap G Pawar of Sakal Papers; Shailesh Gupta of Jagran Prakashan; Praveen Someshwar of HT Media; Dhruba Mukherjee of ABP; Karan Darda of Lokmat Media; and Girish Agarwal of DB Corp.

Advertiser representatives are Karunesh Bajaj, ITC; Aniruddha Haldar, TVS Motor Company; and Shashank Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki India.

We caught up with Srinivasan K Swamy, the newly elected Chairman of the ABC.

What are the immediate and long terms goals you have set for yourself as Chairman of ABC for 2023-24?

ABC is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee (75 years). We should use this opportunity to recall our contribution over the past decades and to set a vision for the future. In this regard, it is important to review many of the audit guidelines and make the ABC, along with the industry, future ready. It is felt by a few that some of the guidelines are rigid and not in line with the competitive environment that publisher members see themselves in. Further, with the Indian Readership Survey not getting updated for nearly four years, ABC is the only credible currency based on which media planners can plan print media priorities. We have a duty therefore to ensure we do everything that makes this – making ABC and the industry future ready – a reality.

Are there any changes you would like to effect in consultation with stakeholders?

ABC’s council is quite active. We actively deliberate all issues that are brought to our attention. It would be unfair to get into specifics here without having had an opportunity to discuss with the council members. But I can tell you that ABC and the print media will emerge stronger by the actions that we would be taking.

Many publications did not submit figures of several editions in post Covid audits. Is this something you will look to address?

Everyone in the industry knows that publications lost circulation during the pandemic. ABC therefore decided to not undertake an audit to confirm the obvious during the bulk of this period but allowed the certificates issued earlier to be valid for extended periods. As an overhang, we also decided to go for an annual audit during January-December 2023 period, rather than a six-month audit of January-June 2023 and July-December 2023. With print circulation back to pre-Covid levels or close to that, we could review the need for six-monthly audits going forward.

Has lack of audited circulation data impacted spends on print in your view? Could it have an impact in the longer term?

The media landscape is evolving with the rise in digital media. In India however, regional language print media is still showing growth, unlike in many geographies in the world. This group of papers have also increased the cover price, showing that readers are willing to pay for consuming print content. The advertising rates were adjusted to some extent for the drop in circulation during the pandemic, but now much of this has moved up to an even keel. Also, it is noteworthy that the advertising rates are quite low for the audience delivered by Indian media compared to their international peers, and therefore the prices will continue to show a healthy upward trend.



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