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After a great 2008, regional FM stations look to tune in to an even better 2009

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After a great 2008, regional FM stations look to tune in to an even better 2009

While 2008 has been an exciting year for FM stations in general, the regional players are the ones to watch out for in the coming year as they look forward to spreading their wings further into their respective states. Though a major share of their advertising comes from local advertisers, corporate advertisers also play a crucial in their advertising revenues.

The year that was

Naval Toshniwal, CEO, Tomato FM, affirmed, “The year 2008 has been phenomenonal for us, particularly because of political advertising, which will be revenue generation for the industry. Nevertheless, November has been tough for us due to the slowdown, which resulted in advertising budgets being slashed.”

Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Director, Eastern Media Ltd, said, “2008 has certainly been exciting for us as people picked up radio in a very big way, particularly because of the localisation of the content. We used political advertisement in a big way with the municipal elections in Bhubaneshwar, and now, we are excitedly waiting for the general elections. Political advertising will certainly help in revenue generation.”

Shreyams Kumar, Director – Electronic Media, Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Co, said, “The first half of 2008 was good and the festive seasons added more sparkle, however, November has seen some amount of slowdown, though in December we have picked up on the revenue front. Political advertising is seen as an opportunity and one big achievement of the industry this year.”

Amritendu Roy, Business Head, Friends FM, remarked, “2008 has been a great year, we are the No. 3 player in Kolkata according to RAM and No. 1 according to our core TG SEC AB 20-plus. We have seen a 60 per cent overall growth this year. It was in this year that RAM was launched in Kolkata, thus bringing in confidence to advertisers. Last month has seen some slowdown, which I believe has mostly to do with the post-festive effects. We have also seen good response from advertisers, thereby, increase of sales, and political advertising should help us increase our revenues.”

2009 wishlist

Tomato FM’s Toshniwal is looking forward to 2009, especially the Phase III rollout. “We are also quite hopeful that 2009 will see the Government allowing us to air news and current affairs in true form,” he added.

Patnaik noted, “The sooner the Phase III rollout is announced, the better for the industry. We also hope for sponsored advertising this year. Music royalty is a concern and should be sorted out soon as it is eating up our revenues.”

Mathrubhumi’s Kumar observed, “Although the decision to air news through limited source is a step in the right direction, we hope the Government allows us to air news from our own source. 2009 will see a lot more fragmentation in the industry and I believe that next year will be a little tough keeping in mind the slowdown, however, it will pick up later on. At this time, the industry needs to be proactive and keep their revenues intact, as the saying goes ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’.”

Roy sounded optimistic about the coming year. He said, “2009 will determine how much of an effect the slowdown has had on the radio industry. We are hopeful that the Government will bring changes in regulations, we are also looking forward to further expansion whenever the Phase III is announced. However, that is only if the expansion plans suit us.”

With quite a few developments expected in the coming year, FM players are understandably looking forward to 2009. One can only hope that the current economic slowdown shows some signs of abating soon enough.


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