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Freedom from regulations tops Indian radio industry’s wishlist

Freedom from regulations tops Indian radio industry’s wishlist

Author | Robin Thomas | Monday, Aug 18,2008 8:19 AM

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Freedom from regulations tops Indian radio industry’s wishlist

As India celebrated her 61st Independence Day, the media covered what ‘independence’ meant to people from various walks of life. To coincide with the I-Day celebrations, exchange4media got busy finding out what freedom meant to one of the fastest growing industries in India today – radio. The dipstick survey has thrown up some interesting findings on what’s on the top of the radio players’ wishlist.

Survey methodology and findings

exchange4media polled a total of 21 individuals from the top management and senior management across 16 radio stations. Officials from Radio Mirchi, Red FM, Big FM, Radio City, My FM, Fever FM, SFM, Radio Today, Radio Mango, Radio Choklate, Tomato FM, Radio Indigo, Friends FM, BBC Radio, Big River and Club FM took part in this survey.

According to the findings, 71.42 per cent of India’s FM radio players want ‘independence from regulations’, followed by 19.04 per cent who want ‘independence from advertisers’ negotiations’. The remaining 9.52 per cent had miscellaneous wishlists, including ‘independence from domineering bosses’.

Options like ‘independence from measurements’ and ‘independence from competition’ did not receive any votes at all. While the radio officials admitted that they saw measurements and competition as restrictions, they also added that measurement systems like RAM helped attract advertisers and creativity in the medium. They further said that competition played a role in ‘spicing things up’.

Commenting on these findings, Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, said, “I see all the above options as an opportunity for the players, so I disagree with all those who want freedom from regulations and advertisers’ negotiations. In fact, I welcome them as I see restrictions as opportunities.”

Sunil Kumar, MD, Big River Radio, noted, “If freedom from regulations is what the majority in the radio industry want, so be it – it should be given to them. I want independence from unimaginative programming and promotions. The task is to build an audience, which, in turn, would build advertisers.”

Survey background

Radio, the second oldest medium in India, has only 3 per cent of advertising revenues in comparison to mediums like television or out-of-home that claim around 45 per cent and 8 per cent advertising revenues, respectively. Like television, till the early nineties, radio was under the direct control of the Government. The medium was opened to the private sector only in 2000.

FM radio frequencies were auctioned to private broadcasters, all of whom play music-based programmes, therefore, minimising differentiation in a newly liberalised medium. The industry has had a tough time convincing advertisers that radio delivers. This, in addition to Government regulations and lack of will and determination among the industry players themselves, are hurdles that the industry needs to overcome.

Graphical representation of the exchange4media dipstick survey

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