The Phase II expansion of FM radio in India has been an exciting, but at the same time challenging, period for radio players. The relaxing of regulations did mean that radio could turn into a profitable business, but the licences issued also drew unsaid deadlines for stations to roll out in the cities they had licences for, and hopefully in time to be geared for Phase III.
The key players of the domain have finished the first leg of expansion, which was the completion of their rollout in cities that they had licences for. 245 licences were issued in Phase II. Prior to that, 21 stations were operational in the FM space in India. If the buzz in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry corridors is anything to go by, over 600 licences would be issued in the Phase III expansion of FM radio.
Radio City has completed its 20-station rollout with the Jalgaon and Nanded stations in Maharashtra going operational. Commenting on the completion of the 20-city network, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, said, “With all our 20 stations set up and a focused, crystal clear strategy – 2008 is the year of growth for us. We are looking at aggressive growth based on the pillars of some outstanding entertaining content, differentiated and melodious music, ability to provide extremely creative and innovative solutions to advertisers and a unique brand positioning.”
Radio Mirchi, which had acquired 32 licences, also went operational in all these cities earlier in the year when it launched in Jabalpur in February 2008. Big FM, too, has been on an overdrive. The station had to surrender nine of its licences initially due to the cap on the number of licences a single player could hold, and of the 45 stations that it had to roll out, 44 are operational. The only remaining city is Shimla. Jabalpur was the last station in the rollout process for My FM, which had won a total 17 licences.
With the FM net cast out well, and news and current affairs likely to be allowed on FM radio, the medium is set to witness some exciting times.