[Reader-list] 5th posting from indira

Indira Biswas indirabiswas at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 27 12:39:57 IST 2004


This is Indira.This time I would like to share with you a report on the the 
programme preference and broadcast reactions of the CRS. It was the only 
exhaustive report on the programme preference and broadcast reactions in 
Calcutta of the CRS and was done and published by P. C. Mahalanabis in the 
year 1941. A survey of this report would provide us with a clear picture of 
the audience preference of the time. In Calcutta two random samples were 
used. The first, which was called ‘general’ sample consisted of 1503 
families picked up at random out of the list of houses given in Thacher’s 
Street Directory in predominantly middle class residential areas of 
Calcutta. The second group consisted of 803 persons holding radio licenses 
selected again at random out of the consolidated list supplied by the CRS. 
Both these samples were intentionally picked up from the same geographical 
area to enable comparisons being made between results. The ‘radio’ sample 
had, however, a comparatively large proportion of families with expenditure 
above Rs.400 per month. This, the reporter felt, was the right amount for 
possessing a radio in ‘comfortable circumstances’.

The report made a comparative study of uses and preference of radio, 
gramophone and cinema as entertainment medias. It shows that a large 
proportion of people, nearly half among both men (46.7 percent) and women 
(51.17 percent) habitually listen to the radio; while a much lower 
proportion, only about one-third habitually go to the cinema. The proportion 
hearing the gramophone is small only about 17 or 18 percent.
The radio is used for entertainment with increasing frequency with advancing 
years. The proportion going to the cinema is more or less steady up to 35 
years, but then begins to decrease and falls to the very low value of 16.7 
percent among persons above 55 years. The gramophone is used by a slightly 
larger proportion of younger people below 18 years and by older people above 
55 years than in the intermediate age group.
Education exerts little influence. Graduates use radio a little more 
frequently and the gramophone a little less than undergraduates or non 
matrics; otherwise differences are small, and probably negligible.
Coming to expenditure level, it was shown that the use of gramophone 
probably decreases to some extent among families with a monthly expenditure 
above Rs 40 while the use of radio increases beyond the level of Rs. 100 per 
month. Variations are quite small in the case of the cinema, which show that 
this form of entertainment was equally popular among all economic classes.
The study show that among occupational groups, the gramophone is used most 
frequently by petty traders (26.0 percent) and least frequently by 
professional people (12.7 percent) while the radio is used most frequently 
by professional people (51.1 percent) and least frequently by petty traders 
(42.0 percent). Differences in the case of the cinema are again quite small 
and do not exceed five percent.
Turning to the entertainment preferences, the study reveals that habits and 
preferences more or less go together. Certain deviations, however, from this 
general rule are of considerable interest. Practically, everyone in all age, 
educational, economic or occupational groups would like to go much more 
frequently to the cinema and use the gramophone much less than they are 
doing at present. The difference between habit and preference is less in the 
case of radio; but on the whole, people would prefer to use the radio a 
little less frequently than at present.
Although in actual fact the radio is used more frequently for entertainment 
than the cinema it is clear that the latter is more popular in the sense 
that more people would prefer to go to the cinema. That they do not actually 
go to the cinema more frequently, especially in the case of well-to-do 
people, is probably due to the long fixed hours and the necessity of going 
out of doors. The radio can be turned on or off sitting at house whenever 
one likes, and is thus more easily accessible in a physical sense. Also, 
perhaps the question of recurring expenditure is a factor of some 
importance. Once a radio is purchased, there is little visible expense in 
keeping it up, while in going to the cinema tangible cash expenditure has to 
be incurred on each occasion.

>From the ‘general sample’ it was found out that among middle class families 
of Calcutta,
a very large proportion, 91 percent among men and 86 percent among women, 
take interest in current news. But, the radio serves as the medium of news 
for about 35 percent of men and 44 percent of women. A much larger 
proportion of men, nearly 60 percent, get their news from news papers while 
only about 39 percent of women do so. As a vehicle of news, radio becomes 
increasingly important with increasing economic level from about 17 percent 
in the lowest expenditure group to about 41 percent among families with 
monthly expenditure above Rs. 400. The popularity of radio decreases 
steadily with increasing age, and is comparatively small among non matrics 
and persons engaged in petty trade. The frequency of listening to the radio 
definitely decreases with age but increases with increasing economic level. 
The proportion of women who listen often to radio is 36.4 percent and is 
much higher than the proportion of 19.5 percent among men. On the contrary, 
the position is almost exactly reversed in the case of those who never 
listen to the radio for we find that 36.4 percent of women do not do so 
against 19.4 percent of men. The explanation is probably quite simple. Women 
having access to a radio listen more frequently as they stay indoor more 
often than men. But, in the case of families, which do not possess a radio 
or have no access to one, the men could often go out and listen to the radio 
from commercial sets or in friends’ houses; women could do this very rarely. 
However, it is obvious from the general sample that radio being an expensive 
item, was not a household item in the middle class families. It is more 
apparent from the fact that while a large percentage of men and women wanted 
information of war news, radio served as a medium of news to less than half 
of the studied group.

In the Calcutta Radio Sample, out of the 887 persons, the institute picked 
up 803 persons who speak Bengali to study their preferences for different 
items of the programme in Bengali broadcasted from Calcutta in February and 
March 1941. On the whole, we find from the study that war news and news 
talks are most popular in the sense of being often or sometimes listened to 
by a very large proportion of persons (77.4 and 74.4 percent respectively) 
irrespective of age, education and occupation. The case of foreign news is 
slightly different. It is least popular with petty traders and most popular 
with professional people and students.
In the entertainment group modern (78.4 percent) and Tagore (74.4 percent) 
music easily come at the top both in view of the large numbers who usually 
listen to them and also in the very small (13.2 and 14.3 percent) numbers of 
those who do not listen to these items at all. Instrumental music (73.4 
percent), plays (68.8 percent) and devotional music (66.3 percent) come next 
with classical (45 percent) a long way behind. In this group, however, age 
exerts a strong influence. The proportion of persons listening ‘often’ 
steadily and consistently decreases with increasing age in the case of 
modern (from 70.8 to 18.2 percent), Tagore (from 66.6 to 21.2 percent), and 
instrumental music (from 50.0 to 27.3 percent), and plays (from 54.2 to 36.4 
percent), while preference for devotional music increases (from 25.0 to 51.5 
percent) with advancing age. In the case of classical appreciation is low in 
the youngest age group below 18 years (16.7 percent) but attains the peak 
value (29.9 percent) between 19 and 25 years and then steadily decreases to 
12 percent among persons above 55 years. This may coincide with the CRS 
claim that it was training its young listeners to develop an aptitude for 
classical music. Turning to educational groups we find that plays, modern 
and instrumental music have high popularity among non-matrics and 
undergraduates. Both devotional and classical music steadily lose in 
popularity with increasing educational qualifications. Devotional music is 
most popular with landlords, which perhaps is significant. It is noteworthy 
again that professional people have the lowest preference for classical 
music. Modern and Tagore songs enjoy the highest popularity among students. 
Petty traders have also a great liking for modern music but have the lowest 
preference for Tagore music. This contrast is of considerable significance 
as it reveals the heterogeneous nature of modern music, which consists of 
two distinct strata, - one comparable to Tagore music and the other as if of 
an inferior kind. In this connection it is worth noting that professional 
people have the highest preference, next to students, for Tagore music and 
at the same time the lowest preference for modern music. In the 
entertainment group Tagore music thus stands out as a progressive item in 
the sense of being more appreciated by people with higher educational 
qualifications or by higher occupational groups like professional people.
Women, on the whole, are more interested in the entertainment group than in 
news or talks with the sole exception of women’s programme. Women 
particularly very often listen to plays. Then comes modern music with 
women’s programme slightly behind. Their next preference is for Tagore music 
with war news coming closely behind. This indicates that women in this 
country, as far as those hearing the radio are concerned, are not quite 
apathetic to current news, especially war news.

This report on audience preferences would be very helpful in writing the 
broadcasting history of the region.

With regards
Indira Biswas

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