“The more one watches TV news, the more one tends to read newspaper”, says a CMS study

A new study of Centre for Media Studies (CMS) indicate an “appetizer effect” of viewership to television news on newspaper readership. That is the more one watches TV news the more one tend to read a newspaper.

In a structured field study conducted by CMS in four cities in different regions of the country as to newspaper readership among those who are also TV viewers, it was found that in the case of 60 percent or more the time spend on their newspaper reading was more and that was attributed to viewing TV news earlier in the day or immediate previous night.

Infact, in the case of Chennai, this phenomena was more significant that in other cities followed by Hyderabad. This perhaps was because of higher readership, credibility and extensive coverage of The Hindu newspaper- in Chennai and Hyderabad – and of Eenadu daily in Hyderabad, according to CMS.

The study was designed in the wake of multiplicity of news channels in the country and increase in their news bulletins. 150 matching samples of “reader-viewers” were covered in both the rounds of survey from each of the four cities. The surveys were conducted in December 2000 and May 2001 in the same cities – New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Calcutta, the cities witnessing keen competition between newspapers and television channels themselves.

Contrary to general impression that television affects print media, television is, adding to readership as well as credibility of daily newspapers, at least in the case of mainline dailies, according to this latest CMS study.

Interestingly, “seeing is believing” adage apparently seems no longer relevant with proliferation of news bulletins on television channels and perhaps because of the present pattern and structure of television news bulletins and current affair programmes. This latest study hints at the tendency of driving television viewers to get reconfirmation on one or the other aspect of news coverage or and increase their curiosity to know more and beyond.

Occasions of such “follow ups” with immediate newspaper are not on the decline. Such a phenomena was recalled more when there was hype (repeat of same visuals and prolonged verbose/discussions on television), according Dr. N .Bhaskara Rao, Chairman, CMS, Perhaps this trend to some extent explains the recent spurt in the circulation of mainline dailies in the country.

Yet another finding from the two rounds of these CMS field surveys in the last one year, the period when TV news channels have proliferated, is that the credibility of mainline newspapers has improved over the previous year (1999-2000). The Hindu newspaper stands out far ahead of other news dailies vis-à-vis television news in terms of credibility (extent of “follow ups”)

CMS surveys also indicate that TV news viewership more often determines now the span of time readers spend reading a newspaper as well prioritization in reading the contents of a newspaper. There is no significant evidence otherwise, that increase in viewing news channels having an adverse effect on the extent of newspaper readership. Whether overall time spent in reading a newspaper has come down as a result of television news is being studied now.

Nevertheless, CMS surveys bring out certain “complimentary phenomena” between the two media, newspapers and television. But soon we may see the two media on a “competitive course” more glaringly, Dr. Rao observes.

CMS is a pioneer in media studies in India with several path breaking studies to its credit over the years. The study also has enough indication to the that fact news channels have expanded television viewership. The next round of CMS survey will deal with this aspect more directly.

(The article was published at exchange4media on 04,July,2001)