Steep licence fees have substantially curbed the growth of private FM radio in its infancy. While license fees in Mumbai are cumulated at Rs 52 crore, the advertising market for radio in the city stands barely at Rs 35 crore. The industry incurred a Rs 200-crore loss last year, on top of Rs 110 crore the year before. The industry suffered the loss despite revenue earning of Rs 1.16 billion – more than double of the previous year's figure.
Interestingly, even on top of such mounting loss, stations are choosing to concentrate on the apple-cheeked side of the programming business and are stacking up an array of offerings for the New Year.
As part of its New Year bonanza, Go 92.5 FM has masterminded an on-air auction where listeners would be bidding for some personal belongings of their favourite radio jockeys. The station has a special ‘Top Ten’ package where it is planning to reveal the chosen 10 best in music, films, sports, news stories and television hotties. “All of this would be a prelude to December 31 bash. On December 31, we would play the top 50 songs, starting from 8 am and going on till 12 in the night. Viewers are already voting for the hottest of the bunch, and we already have some 30,000-odd SMS in hand. We would play bites of key celebrities captured round the year and play them in between the songs,” elaborates Shariq Patel, Station Head, Go 92.5.
“We also have a Go 92.5 float around the city that takes in requests and dedications. In addition, we have sufficient visibility at IOCL petrol pumps to promote the brand name at ground level,” he adds.
Meanwhile, sharing how Radio Mirchi is equipped to welcome the New Year, Sameer Sainani, Associate Vice President, Radio Mirchi explains, “In the Hello Mumbai segment, we would be discussing the hottest subjects of the year (which includes BMC’s mess ups, Preity Jain controversy and soon). Every hour, we would be taking on a different subject and rounding off five in the big league. For instance, top five fashion trends, fashion tips, newsmakers, films, actors, actresses and so on. From 5 pm to 9 pm onwards, we have Bumper to Bumper wherein we would be specifically addressing the top five commuter grievances in addition to top five Bollywood rumours, and stray incidents related to Mumbai. From nine to 12, we have a countdown show called the Mirchi Top 20 wherein we would be playing the hottest numbers of the year in tandem with celebrity bites and trivia.”
As he mentions, there will be a contest of sorts going on, wherein a lucky couple will be picked up in a Mercedes, taken to shopping centres around the city and will be treated to a one-day-stay in a five-star hotel, complete with a banquet in the night and breakfast in the morning. “On January 1, we would have a numerologist and a Pandit coming in, for those who need to know their fortunes for 2004. So far, selling space has not been a problem and we are getting a deal of response from brands who are eager to associate themselves with our New Year bonanza.”
While Mirchi and Go 92.5 are all set with special programming lined up, Red FM is not behind in competition. “We have a concept called the Red Indian of the year, where listeners can vote for just about anyone from various fields such as films, music, television and so on. In addition, we have a thing called ‘2004 Ke Sartaj’ which is a top 50 countdown, which would cover the hottest tracks of the year. At ground level, we would be giving an in-depth coverage on the big events of the city (for the New Year’s) and a low down of all the mirth and merry making that’s going on in the streets. We also have a request segment titled as Bye 2004, Hi 2005. As far as space goes, we are seeing some fantastic response from advertisers, and undoubtedly, this initiative should fetch us a good deal of revenues,” elucidates Red FM spokesperson Hoezay.
While programming efforts are definitely scaling new heights, the struggle for a revenue boosting system continues unabated. Broadcast policy has a chequered track record in India and the road still looks long and tiring for the private FM radio industry.