Managing Director | 16 Feb 2012
The one sole milestone that had every radio station - big small, single station, pan India presence station - alike smiling was the realization that the Indian government had finally given a nod to the clearance of the much-delayed FM radio expansion Phase III. We’re finally in the race to reach international broadcasting standards as the FDI allows international players to enter the Indian markets. However, as an industry, we were expecting more than 26 per cent.
Sanjay Prabhu is the Managing Director of Radio Indigo and Executive Director of Karnataka’s leading Kannada news channel, Suvarna News 24x7, both of which are under the Jupiter Capital banner. Over the last decade, he has been associated with the group, which has now evolved to be one of the leading media groups in the region, with Asianet News and Kannada Prabha being their other media brands.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Prabhu shares his views on where the FM radio industry in India is headed, Phase III expansion, Radio Indigo’s programme initiatives and more...
Q. How was 2011 for Radio Indigo? What are the major programming and marketing initiatives undertaken last year?
2011 was great for Radio Indigo in all departments. We have had some unique campaigns on air and on ground too. We have witnessed significant growth in the financial year and hope to see even better results in 2012. We have had a very successful Jingle Jam which saw more than 80 Bangalore schools participate; we had several studio shifts to key retail locations in Bangalore and have been a part of the Metallica concert in Bangalore. Most importantly we celebrated our 5th anniversary in 2011.
Q. What are the major trends in radio advertising seen in this financial year?
There is a huge demand in terms of good and innovative creatives rather than just regular ad spots; the main focus is to be different and trend setting in advertising on radio. Brands now want to create unique identities through their radio initiatives as well.
Q. Have you seen any major brand category entering the advertising space in radio of late?
Large international brands, in the retail segments, are using radio very effectively. Brands from home décor and furnishings, automobiles and lifestyle verticals are the forerunners.
Q. How do you think FM Phase III will help shape the various initiatives of Radio Indigo?
Radio Indigo is an established brand today and a brand to be reckoned with in Bangalore and Goa. FM Phase III allows us to enter newer markets and indulge the listener as well as PAN India brand to our international radio audience – expanding our horizons and growth.
Q. According to FM Phase III expansion, foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in a private FM radio broadcasting company has been increased from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. How has this helped you and are there any major plans on this front?
The one sole milestone that had every radio station - big small, single station, pan India presence station - alike smiling was the realization that the Indian government had finally given a nod to the clearance of the much-delayed FM radio expansion Phase III. To know that we can finally broadcast news, increase foreign direct investment and perhaps spread our wings to smaller cities was truly a remarkable time in Indian radio industry. We’re finally in the race to reach international broadcasting standards as the FDI allows international players to enter the Indian markets. However, as an industry, we were expecting more than 26 per cent.
Q. What the things on your wish list for Phase III that you think are still pending?
It is definitely a higher FDI and at least more than 26 per cent. But besides that, we would have liked the freedom of news, without limitations of relaying AIR news. We would also have liked tax incentives and extension of license period of current operators.
Q. Do you see any potential for growth of niche radio channels in India?
Radio indigo is a classic example to exhibit success of a so called ‘niche station’. We call it entertainment of the young, talented and well informed Indian. We call it entertainment of the ‘non masses.’ Monotonous, banal and mediocre programming is passé.
Q. Could you highlight on your listener profile? What percentage of Indian population tune to radio for international music?
Radio Indigo caters to a person who belongs to the Sec A, Sec B of society, who is well informed, well educated and more importantly a person who is well travelled and a global Indian aspiring to be the best and experience the best.
Q. How do your foresee the radio industry five years from now?
More international music: Whether its Bollywood stations or predominantly international stations like Radio Indigo 91.9 FM, 2011 saw a lot of high profile international influences in the Indian music. Lady Gaga collaborated with Indian music directors for the official Bollywood remix of her song ‘Born this Way’, Enrique Iglesias collaborated with Sunidhi Chauhan on ‘Heartbeat’, Akon revolutionized Hindi music with ‘Chamak Chalo’ and performed in India to highlight it, Ludacris rapped his way into an Akshay Kumar film and toured India in the same year. 2012 will only see more and more of these international blessings. All stations alike would benefit from this with more collaboration, more tours and more branding opportunities.
Creative integration: Clients have been more open to advertising on radio in general in 2011. But something tells me that 2012 will see them advertising more creatively than just the typical FCT (Free Commercial Time) purchasing. Radio will be the advertisers delight in 2011. Each station will try to out-do the next with creative “out of the box” integration options.
Online: The future is online. It’s been said for the past few years and nothing is going to change that. Radio Stations will aim to move past just receivers in 2012 and onto your web page.
Mobility: Radio is not just radio in the car. Its radio on your phones, its radio on planes and its radio on i-Pads, desk tops, lap tops. It’s radio on the television. Radio will be everywhere you go.
Q. Could you highlight on the various recent programming initiatives of Radio Indigo?
Currently, we are about to launch Heartline which probably India first ever radio show aimed at providing professional counseling on air. Bangalore’s multi ethnic culture has a large population who is in the region of 20-25 who need expert help in issues of relationships, sex and work life. If there are issues that they need help with, our panel of experts which include Psychiatrist Dr Shyam Bhat, presenter Teja and our producer Sophia will help them out. Sophia worked with BBC UK and has vast experience in the radio industry. Besides this, we will continue to do our studio shifts. This year, we will look at doing many more on ground events.
Q. What are five elements that make a FM a hit?
According to me, it is the content, creative integration, ROI on advertisers spends and listener engagement that creates an aspiration brand.
Q. What are your expectations from 2012?
I cannot help but be extremely positive about all the above five points and hope to excel in each and every one of those departments to add value to our clients.