The morning sessions of the two-day Radio Duniya Conference 2008, being held in the Capital on February 11-12, focussed on various important issues, including the dearth of trained and experienced personnel in the radio industry. Speakers also discussed the problem of ‘unethical poaching’ of professional talent going on in the industry.
Speaking on the topic ‘Radio 2010: Vision for the Future’, Anil Srivatsa, COO, Radio Today, stressed on the human resource concern of the radio industry. He stressed that the dearth of professional talent in the radio industry would result in high talent procurement cost. He further said that the voice of the Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) needed to be heard louder. “We have no networking allowed between A, C and D category cities because of which we have to incur high expenses on music and manpower,” he pointed out.
“News in FM is more revenue oriented and provides opportunities to generate revenue based on more employment, but there is no definition of news so far. We are mature people running the FM industry and can self-regulate content,” Srivatsa maintaned.
He also spoke about institutes to be accredited by AROI to commensurate with the industry need in terms of talent. This would provide meaningful employment to the right talent.
Harrish M Bhatia, Business Head, My FM, suggested that unlimited networking should be allowed in all categories of cities. He also proposed multiple frequencies with certain caps for better programming. He also requested for FDI in radio at par with print and TV.
P K Singh, Deputy Director, All India Radio (AIR), said that the industry needed to focus on the growth of FM radio in areas where signals did not reach, like the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir region. “AIR has been experimenting through unmanned transmitters to increase availability of FM signals in hilly areas,” he informed.
The second session covered the topic ‘It’s Raining Radio in India’. The main speakers at this session included Daulat Singh Chauhan, Executive Director, Suno Lemon; Vinay Manek, Assistant VP-Programming, Radio City; Kamal Krishnan, Senior Manager, Mango FM; George Sabastian of Club FM, Matrubhumi; Nisha Narayanan, Project Head S FM; and Zohra Chatterji. Rajeev Nambiar, President and COO, Hello FM, was the moderator of the session.
Speaking on the advantages and disadvantages of local and national FM players, S FM’s Narayanan observed that accessibility factor was one area where national playered scored over local players. There was higher access to Bollywood celebrities, advertisers and approach relating to implementing government issues, she pointed out, adding, “As far as national clients are concerned, the national players are always at an advantage. There is a commercial viability and advantage of the national players as they have more number of stations.”
But when it came to local players, Narayanan said, “It is very challenging to be locally relevant, which is difficult for national players. For the local music industry it is difficult to strike a deal as an individual endeavour is required, which the local industry is good at.”
Club FM’s Sabastian also shared a similar experience and said, “It enables them to understand the market better than national players.” He further said that tie-ups with bigger player, which had larger networks in terms of advertiser reach, could be a short term arrangement as there was a tendency to take over the smaller player in due course of time.
Radio City’s Manek spoke about the dilemma of radio professionals who did not have much professional growth and had no one to look up to. Suno Lemon’s Chauhan spoke about unethical poaching of manpower in small cities, stating that the larger players often lured talents from the smaller radio stations at lucrative perks. To this, the panel reacted by saying that a uniform HR code should be worked upon, wherein the industry should have a uniform pay structure for a particular type of job. Speakers also raised concern about having an authorised Radio Listenership Measurement system.