After two years of growth and consolidation in 2007 and 2008, the FM radio industry in India is looking forward to further growth in 2009. With the likely allowing of news and current affairs programmes on private FM radio and Phase III expansion policy expected to be announced soon, there are some action-packed times ahead.
However, as exchange4media finds out, there is also a cautious eye that the industry ie keeping on the current economic slowdown scenario.
The year of consolidation
According to industry players, 2008 has been a phenomenal one with a lot of excitement as also a period of consolidation.
According to Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, and President, AROI, “The year 2008 has clearly been a year of fulfilment with the Radio City brand offering an even richer experience to both listeners and advertisers alike. The successful launch of our national network was followed by a consistent and uncompromising city-focus in every market of operation, which was taken across to our listeners with extremely successful and clutter-breaking campaigns.”
She added, “Our domain leadership among SEC AB audiences offered advertisers a potently effective, quality delivery vehicle to showcase their brands. Furthermore, we added to our portfolio of offerings, thereby allowing the advertiser the leeway to opt for an integrated brand experience. Planet Radiocity marked our foray into the digital domain, we ventured into a new, dedicated business vertical. Leading our thrust on non-traditional revenues via activations, we announced Radio City Connect, our full spectrum activations cell providing end-to-end 360 degree brand marketing solutions.”
Prashant Panday CEO, Radio Mirchi, observed, “We had a good first half and like other media companies, we are also facing unprecedented challenges in the third quarter. Tough times call for tough decisions – and we are working at making the best of the situation. But, there is no denying that the advertising business is in a bad shape right now. I do feel, however, that by January 2009, a lot of the bad news may dissipate as brands emerge with new budgets.”
Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, noted, “The year has been good for Red FM, we have further consolidated our position as the No.1 station based on our thought-provoking content and attitude. Besides that, we have worked on taking the brand beyond radio to other media with associations like Bindass Live with Malishka and Bajaate Raho Awards.”
He further said, “Overall, the year 2008 has been a year of progressive reforms, paving the way for further changes in the years ahead. Most of the talked about changes have been progressive policy changes such as allowing political ads on radio, etc. They have been targeted towards increasing the penetration of the medium as well as allowing new sources of revenue for the industry.”
Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM, said, “From the very beginning, 2008 was a very productive year for us since we had completed the 17-station launches by the end of last year. And this year was the growth period and time to consolidate our position in our markets. We have come back with 50 per cent more listenership than Big FM in Chandigarh and Radio Mirchi in Raipur. We have been constantly innovating our content and programming, keeping in mind the evolving preferences of our listeners.”
Different strokes for 2009
Looking ahead, Purohit said, “The year 2009 is not going to be an easy year for any industry, however, to what extent is something that no one can predict. If the several initiatives being planned by the Government play out and the economy does get a boost, we are seeing a recovery as early as April 2009. If not, then we may be in for a long haul of slowing growth.”
She added, “I think it is a great opportunity for not just Radio City, but the entire radio industry to reiterate the medium’s effectiveness and high ROI for brands wanting to use micro or localised marketing as a strategy to manage the slowdown. We thus hope to see more and more astute marketers benefiting from radio in 2009.”
Thomas explained, “Radio, which is already proving to be a more cost effective medium for local/ retail advertisers, is poised for a higher growth rate than other local media such as print and outdoor. From an advertiser’s perspective, Radio’s CPT is around Rs 331 as compared to the CPT of print, which stands at Rs 1,176, which is important to note in these times of global economic recession and meltdown.”
Bhatia observed, “As far as 2009 is concerned, My FM is definitely looking forward to an even brighter year ahead. We are already geared to embrace the permission to broadcast news and current affairs and are hoping that the settlement of music royalty issues will give a boost to the growth as well. These issues are common to all radio players. Furthermore, in the third phase of licensing, we will be looking to establish ourselves as a leading radio station with national footprint.”
Lancelot Cutinha, Senior Vice President - Human Resources, Big FM, said, “If the downturn continues and if the economic conditions get worse, we will see the survival of the fittest. Only time will tell.”
The industry is eagerly looking forward for an exciting and brighter 2009, especially with the Phase III expansion policy expected to be rolled out next year. However, there is a concern about the slowdown continuing for a longer time and the industry is also in a wait and watch mode.