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Harrish Bhatia

CEO | 25 Jul 2013

Radio is the most regulated media sector. Nothing can change the content game completely till the Government loosens up on the regulations. No radio station can grow with this amount of regulations. We need to wait till the Government takes a strong step.

Harrish Bhatia, CEO, My FM has been the driving force of the network. Prior to My FM, Bhatia played a key role is establishing Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat in 2003 and Dainik Bhaskar in Jaipur. Prior to his association with Bhaskar Group, Bhatia had a stint with LG Electronics as the National Product Head. He was also a part of JVC Victor Company of Japan from 1986 to 1993. Bhatia also has experience across brands such as Onida and Aristocrat Luggage.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Saloni Surti, Bhatia chats about the difference between tier II & III and metro markets, AdEx movement and a number of other industry issues. Excerpts...

Q. How is content strategy in the tier II and III cities different from that in the metros?

Consumers in tier II and III cities are not much different from that in the metros. The only difference is that audiences in these towns connect with FM at a higher level. Thus, formats such ‘Ramayan’ or ‘Mahabharat’ or other story telling programmes are more like to connect among audiences in tier II and III cities. Also, listeners in these cities connect to the RJs at a personal level and look up to them as friends. In metros, radio stations are mostly looked at as an entertainment format. Another major difference is that the time spent with radio is much higher in tier II and III cities as compared to metros. Thus, these are the factors that create difference in content strategies.

Q. How has the radio station been supporting advertisers in the absence of a comprehensive measurement metrics?

We at My FM have outsourced measurement so as to fill the need of comprehensive measurement in the space. For the past three years, we have tied up with Ormax Research to audit for us every three months. The audit helps us understand our strengths, where are we strong, which markets are performing well and which not.

Q. How has the AdEx been in the first quarter of FY2013-14? Any particular trend that stood out?

It has been a good quarter. We witnessed a growth of around 22 per cent. It’s difficult to say whether this growth will sustain or not, as the economy has been tight. With the instability of the stock market, a number of industries have witnessed southward trend. In terms of trends, the education sector has been seen increasing its radio spends. Auto sector’s expenditure on the medium has also increased considerably. Apart from that, no other trend really stood out.

Q. What is My FM’s approach towards digital and mobile radio?

It is very difficult to focus on digital radio until the Government does not clear the internet radio policy. Royalty system, content regulation, and so on, across internet radio is not very clear and thus, digital expansion is difficult. Also, the system of mobile radio, wherein users have to dial a number to tune in, according to me has a loophole and thus does not really work. We need a stronger base to expand in these sectors.

Q. Private FM industry is said to suffer from mass content formats. With the Government not seen to be making any changes in the news front, what, according to you, will be the game changer in terms of content?

Radio is the most regulated media sector. Nothing can change the content game completely unless the Government loosens up on the regulations. No radio station can grow with this amount of regulations. We need to wait till the Government takes a strong step.

Q. Who are the major advertisers with My FM?

We have clients across sectors. We have a strong base of national clients who rely on our strong regional network – Apple, Samsung, Idea, Vodafone, and Cadbury are a few names.

Q. What are your expansion plans in Phase III?

We have great expansion plans. However, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We are also waiting for the Government to open up on a number of issues. We need to see which markets are viable. It depends a lot on how the business picks up and how things work out.

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