Towards the end of January 2009, HT Media Ltd had informed BSE that the Board of Directors of the company at its meeting held on November 28, 2008, had approved a proposal for the demerger of the radio business of HT Music and Entertainment Company Ltd, a subsidiary company of HT Media, and merge it with itself. One of the reasons, as told to exchange4media on November 28, 2008 when the demerger was reported, was the tax losses in the radio entity, which would give a tax break in HT Media.
After two years of its inception, Fever FM will finally break even in the last quarter of this year. The breakeven would also mean that the FM station, which is a technical collaboration between Hindustan Times and Virgin Radio, will be going to the next level, which would now include higher ratings and looking more at personalities. The objective is to become the No. 1 FM station.
In an exclusive conversation with eachange4media, Ian Grace, President, Virgin Radio, said, “It is breakeven this quarter and going on to next year, to break even into profit. The next step for us is to get more ratings. We need to get more listeners in the main cities and more creative ways to work with advertisers and clients in general, which is why I say we are in the second stage of the station, where our focus will be development from the programming and strategic point of view.”
He added, “The challenge is to convert the number of listeners into revenues, which is not being done now. It is certainly a challenge to get equal number of listenership into equal or more revenue, but it certainly is not impossible.”
When quizzed about its expansion plans for Phase III, Grace said, “I don’t know the dynamics of Phase III, but if the expansion is going to be only smaller towns and cities, then we are certainly not going to participate in it.”
Speaking about the Virgin brand becoming Absolute, Grace said, “The iconic brand of Virgin Radio is no longer there in the UK and the existing radio station appears to have lost a lot of business in a very short span of time, so you have to say that no one is the winner. The point I am making here is that to the consumer, the Virgin Radio brand has disappeared when they changed the name from Virgin to Absolute Radio, which does not appear to have done very well.”
Virgin Radio International, which operates in eight countries, including China and Thailand, will now launch in Jordan in six to eight weeks’ time, while also eyeing the North and South American and Eastern European markets.