Taking stock of the FM radio scene in the country, the FICCI Radio Forum has noted that lack of diversity in content in FM channels is leading to disenchantment among listeners. In a memorandum to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Forum has pointed out that while the radio industry has witnessed rapid growth in terms of advertising revenues and funds generated for the Government, there has not been significant growth in listenership numbers.
The Forum stated that the current content of various FM channels was focussed on Bollywood-centric music and bereft of other forms of entertainment and news and current affairs programmes. The Forum added that this was evident from the fact that while the number of FM radio channels had grown from 10 to more than 200, the penetration of radio – number of listeners as a percentage of the population – had only risen from 45 per cent to 53 per cent. This trend might stump the growth of the radio industry, which had being experiencing a CAGR of 28 per cent, warned the FICCI Radio Forum.
“An 8 per cent rise is definitely not commensurate with the large increase in the number of radio stations. In order to create a larger audience base for FM radio, diversity in content has to be significantly higher than at present. With appropriate policies, the reach of the medium can be much larger than TV, especially given the fact that it is a free-to-air medium unlike television, cable, or other services that demand subscription charges,” the Forum pointed out.
The FICCI Radio Forum also urged the Government to address some issues that it considered critical to maintain a high and sustainable growth of the radio industry. These issues include the need to release additional frequencies in all markets; allow broadcasters to operate multiple frequencies in the same city; tradability of licenses; automatic renewal of licenses at the end of the initial term of the license; news and current affairs in radio programming; facilitate resolution of music royalties issue; absence of level playing field – satellite radio and FM radio; and, raise the FDI ceiling for radio broadcasting.