Hindustan Times is actively planning to enter the radio space. It is reliably learnt that HT Media Limited has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Virgin Radio Asia, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, last week.
According to sources close to the deal, the objective of the MoU is that as and when the regulatory framework governing radio broadcast is changed to make it a viable business option, HT would like to be in a position to enter this space.
Virgin Radio Asia is a member of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group of companies and was launched in 2002 to build an Asian radio network on the back of Virgin’s highly successful European radio operations. It currently has operations in Thailand and China.
Virgin Radio was originally set up by the Virgin Group, and it went on-air in April 1993. London-based Virgin Radio is also a major player in Internet music broadcasting. Subsequently, the Virgin Radio business in the UK market was bought out by SMG plc, a Scottish media company, and is no longer a part of the Virgin Group.
However, under the Virgin Radio Asia banner, Branson’s Virgin Group group operates six radio stations in Thailand – four of them in Bangkok. They are Soft FM89, Soft Samui, HITZ 95.5 (Bangkok), HITZ 105.75 (Chiangmai), Smooth FM 105, and Eazy FM 105.5. In June this year, Virgin Radio Asia overtook long time Thai market leader Grammy Entertainment to become Bangkok's most listened radio group.
Among the leading FM players in India at present, Radio City, promoted by STAR Group, is the only radio venture promoted by a foreign entity. Radio Mirchi is owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co., while Red FM is run by the India Today Group.