Leveraging radio as a platform for political advertising has been a long-standing demand of the industry as radio caters to 99 per cent of India’s population. With the I&B Ministry giving its nod to political advertising on radio, the hear-hear medium is expected to rake in the revenues. However, the need of the hour is clarifications from the Election Commission so that radio is optimally utilised with the upcoming Assembly elections.
exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of people in the media fraternity to gauge their reactions to this development. While the radio players were optimistic about the move, print players say they don’t feel any threat.
Nisha Narayanan, Project Head, S FM, opined, “Although this move boosts the revenue potential, we should maintain decorum so as to ensure that we don’t become a medium to patronise mud-slinging of political parties. The ads should be development-based and potent with information. However, we need clarification as to how the political ads will be monitored. Will the election commission take forward the TV experience of vetting the ads before broadcasting? If yes, how will they monitor it centrally and regionally? Also, political ads are time-bound.”
Raking in the revenues
Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi, said, “Radio being allowed to air political ads were long-awaited. Radio Mirchi was aggressively pushing the case for the same. At the juncture of the economic meltdown and the elections looming large, this comes as a good development. Political parties will chart out an ad budget of roughly Rs 300-500 crore, out of which Rs 50-60 crore will be invested in advertising on radio.”
Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Director, Eastern Media Ltd, too, stressed that radio should not be neglected as a medium to broadcast political ads. “Radio barons are as responsible as any other media player, so why are they singled out? The need of the hour is an immediate call by the I&B Ministry so as to make use of radio in the upcoming elections. No doubt political advertising on radio will generate revenues, but it is like any other jingle on the radio,” she added.
Anand Chakravarthy, Vice President - Marketing, Big FM, noted, “With the prevalent festive season, radio has inventory opening up for advertising. So, political ads on radio are like any other gateway for revenue. With the Assembly elections round the corner and Lok Sabha elections next year, all political parties can utilise radio as an efficient medium owing to its widespread reach.”
The Multiplier Effect
Vineet Singh Hukmani, CEO, Radio One, said, “Our inventories are in a good position as Radio One devotes 9 minutes an hour to advertising. Therefore, political advertising will easily fit in the picture. In addition to this, conglomerates who own a print publication and radio channel will be at a better footing vis-à-vis revenues as political parties will advertise in both media. This will also boost the contingent of the small players of radio.”
According to Ranjan Bargotra, President, Crayons Advertising, “The obvious implication of this move is the revenue hike in the radio sector. Interestingly, political ads broadcast on radio will complement other media. Conglomerates who own a radio channel and a newspaper would benefit the most.”
With the exorbitant investments expected in political advertising on radio despite the economic meltdown, the print industry remains unperturbed.
Ravi Dhariwal, CEO - Publishing, Bennett, Coleman & Co, said, “I don’t think it will make any difference to the print industry. With TV coming in, print wasn’t impacted initially. They will create advertising fit in every medium. It is a welcome move.” Shashi Shekhar, Editor, Amar Ujala, too, was of the same opinion.
KK Goenka, Vice-President, Prabhat Khabar, said, “We welcome the decision of allowing political ads on radio. It is a big step and will benefit the radio industry. There is, however, no threat to the print players as radio has a different segment and a different target audience.”
Tarun Nigam, Executive Director, Starcom MediaVest Group (North), too, felt that this move would not affect other media. He said, “Radio is a very localised and effective medium. Both the media have there own importance. The overall chunk of print will get impacted.”
Mona Jain, India Head, Strategic Investments, India Media Exchange, said, “The radio industry will gain a lot by this move. I don’t think it will have an impact on the other media.”
A widely welcomed move, now the onus of clarifications to the radio broadcasters is on the Election Commission. The election regulatory body needs to intimate the radio players as to whether they would follow the TV guidelines or whether radio will have separate guidelines.
(With additional inputs by Pallavi Goorha)
I&B Ministry nod to political advertising on radio; revenue impetus of Rs 150-200 cr expected