The brainstorming session titled Radio Rocks, at the second day of Ficci-Frames 2008, had the speakers labouring about listing down the advantages of this medium over television or any other media platforms.
While Indiantelevision.com CEO Anil Wanwari was the moderator, the speakers were David Astley, Secretary-General of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union; Anil Srivatsa, Chief Operating Officer, Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd; Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi; Pankaj Sethi, Head of VAS and Enterprise Market at Tata TeleServices; Asit Kukian, National Sales Head at Radio City; and Abraham Thomas, CEO, Red FM.
Opening the session, Radio Mirchi’s Panday said, “There are many things that are good about radio. First of all, it is a sexy medium and secondly radio, which is like a terrestrial television channel, gives advertisers better message delivery primarily because, unlike the electronic media, it can give more targeted local content. Another advantage is that it offers this delivery at a fraction of the cost of getting the same message delivered on the electronic media.”
Listing out some industry figures and consumption trends, he said, despite being an urban phenomenon, its reach over the past one year alone had been stupendous. The number of cities with private FM stations went up to 70 last year from 20 in the previous year. In revenue terms, this industry grew by 55 per cent. When it comes to radio consumption habits, according to RAM, as many as seven million people in Mumbai listen to radio for two hours while travelling.
Panday further said that the best of radio was yet to come and expressed the hope that this may happen in a year or two. “The next five years will see much faster growth, which I feel will be much faster than what the FICCI-PwC report projects. One way to further speed up the growth momentum is to make radio available in all the 600 districts of the country. Another crucial growth driver will be allowing news on private FM channels,” he added.
Listing out the issues and challenges in this industry, he pointed out that the biggest threat to the viability of this industry came from the music industry, which had exorbitantly increased the royalty amount for the radio industry. Music being the largest property on radio, this had given a body-blow to this budding industry, lamented Panday. The music industry, which has massively hiked the royalty rates, has shattered the financial viability of radio stations.
David Astley of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union said, “With more and more private FM stations coming up, the audience on the state-run All India Radio will get fragmented. AIR would no longer be able to reach out to target audiences with educational and social development programmes.”
Commenting on the advantages of this medium, he said, “Radio deliveres content to attract masses as well as advertisers. Since FM stations utilise a public resource that is the spectrum, they should devote some resources to produce effective and creative public service announcements like setting up more community radio stations. It is the tangible way of supporting a community social development.”
Red FM’s Thomas said, “Radio is simple to access and hence, the sexiness of this medium depends on the instrument you use to access this medium.”
Speaking about the changing consumption behaviour and citing RAM data, he said that as many as 49 per cent of the listeners listened to music on their mobile handsets. Since radio was perceived to be an active media format, Thomas said, he was trying to make it an embedded medium.
Speaking about generating more revenue streams, he said that this medium could be better monetised on television, and cited the example of how his station used television to popularise the Bajate Raho Awards. Stating that marketers weren’t using radio the way they should, Thomas said that they could use this medium more productively by building radio blogs, which he felt, would help them better monetise their money spent on this medium.
Pankaj Sethi of Tata Tele said, “Mobile has a key role to play in the growth of radio. Radio is sexy and will only get sexier in the days to come. Around 60 per cent of the mobile handsets sold in this country have FM features, and going by this trend, I feel that in a year or two, over 75 per cent of mobile handsets will have FM features.”
Commenting on the consumption trends, he pointed out that as many as 85 per cent of radio listenership happened at homes, and expressed the hope that this would change in the time to come.
Talking about monetisation measures, Sethi said that the industry needed to make some lateral thinking. For instance, popularising health campaigns through SMSes and IVRs was an effective tool to monetise this media.
Anil Srivatsa of Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd said that the future of was radio and radio should collaborate with television. Kukian of Radio City making a short speech noted that the success of this medium depended on two things – by engaging consumers more and more on the one hand, and secondly, offering news and current affairs through this medium, for which the Government needed to change the existing rules.