The Indian radio industry, after years of being neglected during the television and Internet boom, is now on the verge of a renaissance. The I&B ministry recently floated a tender for new radio stations under the second phase of the FM policy. Aware of the potential of the radio, Big River Radio India, a production and services company, is planning to start a subscription based radio news service.
Big River is also currently involved in activities like setting up radio stations, conducting studies on market requirements, and putting together programme strategies. Sunil Kumar, MD and CEO, Big River, felt that there was a lot of demand for Indian news in the international markets. This news service from Big River will cater to both Indian and international radio stations.
Big River has different solutions for different radio stations. Said Kumar, “The Indian market is known for its diversity. A listener in Nagpur, for instance, will appreciate jokes or listen to programmes that are not similar to the tastes of a listener in Delhi. We at Big River take into account the culture and local flavours while providing our services and solutions to radio stations.”
Kumar further said that the bidding for FM stations would make the market more mature and radio would be “truly happening” for the first time in India.
“Though the government took some time to set up the radio policy, it has been extremely broadcast friendly in recent times,” he observed. According to Kumar, this would also enable radio station heads to design the radio station according to a budget that suited them.
Another initiative that is seen as a positive development in the growth of radio is the encouragement for community radio stations that allows government-recognised educational institutions to set up their own in-campus radio stations.
These, said Kumar, were low power radio stations that could be tuned in to within a 5-6 km radius. There are approximately 4,000 community radio stations that the government will allow, of which 100 are already operational. “It is the Indian youth’s voice where the content is of interest to those in and around the campus,” Kumar said.
He added that there was a dearth of skilled people in radio. Big River is currently training people on behalf of radio stations by taking them to a station itself and focusing on practical training. This, he said, was very different from learning about radio in an educational institution.