What seemed ‘surprising’ at first glance, when both Adlabs and Sun Group surrendered one extra station each than permitted, at hindsight seems to be a mutually beneficial decision on the part of the two groups.
Adlabs, which won 57 stations, surrendered 13 with the I&B Ministry. Similarly, the Sun Group, which had a total of 71 stations in its kitty, including the four stations from the Phase I Radio expansion, surrendered 27 stations, keeping only 44, one less than the permitted number.
When Adlabs surrendered Cochin, which is considered the Chandigarh of South India, it was the Sun Group, which benefited as Sun was in the waiting list in this Southern city. And when Sun group gave up the A category city Surat, Adlabs was the beneficiary, adding one more to its existing eight stations in the West zone. Thus, when the I&B Ministry makes a formal declaration in this regard, both will have 45 stations each, the maximum permitted by the Ministry.
Call it a pact, agreement or arrangement, but nobody is crying foul, yet. “It’s good for the nascent radio industry where players have decided to follow the principle of co-existence. At such a stage, any attempt to bleed each other will be detrimental for the whole radio sector,” remarked one industry observer.
“In the radio industry, nobody can block anybody. That’s why they are helping each other. Players know that through mutual synergy and cooperation, they can make their business more profitable,” felt another radio expert.
But was it a good bargain for Adlabs, because Surat is no comparison to Cochin from a rational business sense? “It would be too naïve to say so,” felt a radio consultant. “Adlabs knows that Southern India is not its stronghold, which is the homeland of the Sun Group. Surat being a Western Zone city, Adlabs will be more comfortable to run in this city and integrate it with other markets,” he opined.
Sun, through South Asia FM, had won in 18 frequencies out of 21 in the Western zone. However, Cochin in the South was a prestige issue for it where it lost by a small margin. Adlabs, on the other hand, now has nine stations in southern India after leaving Cochin, including the two metros, Chennai and Bangalore. But geographical proximity seems to have weighed against Cochin in favour of Surat.
“All radio players are talking with each other at the highest level as most of them have no experience in this field. And they are discussing all possible ways of mutual cooperation so that at the end of the day all come out as winners,” observed another industry expert.