The Indian radio industry is seen as a cost effective medium, easily modifiable and impacting a large local audience. According to a GroupM media forecast for 2009, the size of the private FM radio industry stood at Rs 590 crore in 2008. The GroupM report also adds that recession favours second-line media like radio and digital over more established media like television and print. The Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2009 report has stated that the radio industry grew 38 per cent in 2008, as compared to 68 per cent in the previous year.
The Indian radio industry has managed a robust growth despite the current economic scenario. With the Phase III rollout likely to happen soon, the industry expects further de-regulations and new licensing parameters that would help the industry grow further.
According to Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, and President AROI, “One way of dealing with the slowdown is managing costs better, wherein even the music royalty issues need to be dealt with. If costs come under control and change in licensing also comes into play, then there is a huge potential in opening different stations in metros. All agencies believe that this is the time radio can gain market share from other media on the back of double digit growths. In fact, slowdown is the ideal time for local and cost effective media to do well.”
Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi, observed, “The biggest challenge I believe is defining what radio is all about. In the last 12 months, the radio industry has benefited a lot. What radio needs to do is position itself as one that has delivered to a larger reach, essentially at the local level. We need to position ourselves as the medium with the highest reach, and this downturn should, in fact, be of great news to the industry.”
On a similar vein, Tarun Katial, COO, Big FM, said, “There is no better medium than radio that can entertain listeners even in difficult times. As of now, radio has a perception problem that needs to be fixed. There is a need to look at radio in an innovative way and there is also a need to give radio the perception it deserves. I believe that radio being a local medium needs local listenership, and if we want to create a local connect, this innovation needs to come from top and centre as well. What radio needs is service action and constant innovation.”
According to Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, “The challenge for radio from ad sales point of view is to treat both national and local sales differently. There is a lot of work that is required internally and we are still somewhere running after national sales.”
Harrish Bhatia, COO, My FM, explained, “For us as a brand, we have always focused on retail, we have gone to really local brands and built them up, and although there is a slowdown in India, the problems mainly lie with the metros. As an industry, we need to make the industry effective and attract new clients to come on board.”