Late night FM radio loyalists in the capital are upset, and so are private operators who had to co-locate their antennae on the All India Radio (AIR) tower. Since mid-September, all FM stations in Delhi were told to take a break between midnight and 5 am. As public broadcaster Prasar Bharati is upgrading its AIR tower, all those sharing the facility have been told to switch off post-midnight. The ordeal is likely to end early ,November.
While private operators (there are three in Delhi) say that there isn’t much of a financial hit due to the late night switch-off, they admit that it’s an irritant for those listeners who tune in late night. Topping the list of listeners in the late night band are BPO/call centre crowd and students.
According to vice-president and regional head Radio Mirchi, Nandan Srinath, “we’re losing out on the BPO traffic and professionals who tune in late.” He added that, “there’s no financial loss because there are no ads in that time band.” In radio, prime time bands for ads are 7 to 11 am and 5 to 10 pm. “It may be a small set of people who typically listen to radio so late, but it’s a loyal base,” he argued. So, this station is running special promos and contests to keep people aware of the situation.
An industry insider, however, said companies may have actually saved some money because of the midnight switch-off. “Radio stations have to pay by the minute for IPR. So, if there’s no bulletin between midnight and 5 am, there would be some cost-saving,” he said.
But, Radio Today’s (Red FM) Nishchint Chawla countered that line of thought, saying “that’s not the objective anyway.”
Mr Chawla said, “we have written to Prasar Bharati about the inconvenience....” Even as the financial impact is not much, Radio Today had to shift out a sponsor during a late night live programme. It is mandatory for private FM radio players to co-locate their antennae on a single tower in the metros. While Mumbai players were exempted from co-locating for the time being, operators in the other three metros agreed to share the AIR towers.