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IndustrySpeak: FM radio stations high on CSR, but does it help?

24-July-2008
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IndustrySpeak: FM radio stations high on CSR, but does it help?

With a penetration of nearly 99 per cent in India today, radio has been entertaining and informing listeners for decades. There is no doubt about the radio having a great socio-cultural impact, and various FM players have embarked on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) drives from time to time. exchange4media takes a look at these CSR activities and how successful they have been in reinforcing the FM player’s brand.

Some recent CSR activities undertaken by different FM players, both national and region, include – Tomato FM had come up with a cleanliness drive, disaster prevention and management, and even observed a Road Safety Week. My FM partnered with UNFPA for the Laadli Media Awards and held numerous competitions on World Environment Day. Radio Mango runs special segments across the day taking issues faced by their listeners like ‘Upakara Smarana’, which means ‘Thanks for favours’. Radio Choklate has a programme called ‘Meri Awaz Suno’. Red FM has the ‘Bajaao for a Cause’ initiative.

Radio City Bangalore had partnered with TNT and UNO for ‘Walk the World’ Walkathon. Radio City Lucknow aimed to create awareness towards eradicating tobacco addiction with the ‘Say No to Tobacco’ drive in partnership with Masiha Cancer Foundation of India and Fun Republic.

Why do FM players engage in CSR?

Harrish Bhatia, COO, My FM, explained, “There are several reasons why FM stations indulge in CSR. The most important being, the medium connects very closely with the society and has the capability to bring about an active behavioural change in the audience. Another reason is that it allows greater interaction with the listeners, which in turn increases the association and presence in their lives.”

Naval Toshniwal, CEO, Tomato FM, said, “In crowded market places, companies strive for an USP that can separate them from the competition in the minds of consumers. CSR also plays a role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values. We, too, benefit from building a reputation for integrity and best practice.”

Giving several reasons for engaging in CSR, Ravi Nair, Director-Programmes, Radio Mango, said, “Building a strong bond with the city/town that you operate in, creating brand awareness is another reason as some stations have very specific campaigns around CSR activities that come to get associated with them and thereby, reinforce their brand in public consciousness. The third reason being CSR can be a part of an organisation’s DNA, particularly when an FM station belongs to a media group that accords very high priority to such activities.”

Monica Patnaik, Director, Eastern Media Ltd, said, “The main objective of an FM station is to connect with the local people. This, in turn, means connectivity with the society at large, which involves certain amount of responsibilities and awareness for everyone’s benefit, and FM stations being corporate house themselves definitely adds up to the curriculum to engage in CSR activity as they have the facility to do so.”

Ashit Kukian, Executive Vice-President and National Head – Sales, Radio City, said, “Radio is increasingly becoming a part of the listener’s life than any other medium. This makes the listener and his individual preferences equally important to those in the radio space.”

Anuj Singh, National Marketing Head and Station Head, Red FM, noted, “As part of its responsibility towards society, Red FM has always been at the forefront in spearheading campaigns that directly impact the common man's life and raising issues concerning them.”

Radio Mirchi’s Riya Mukherjee said, “We have initiated a CSR division because it makes complete sense for a media company, completely embedded in the community. As FM stations ought to take on a larger, more responsible role than just pure entertainment, towards the society and the community that it operates in.”

Thus, there is no dearth of enthusiasm for CSR initiatives among the various FM players. CSR has played an important role in building customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values among listeners. However, how far does CSR help FM stations in reinforcing their brands? exchange4media will take a look at this and more in the second part of this report.

To be continued…

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