Reports appearing in a section of the media on August 27 stating that Mumbai traffic police would levy a fine of Rs 500 on all those listening to music while driving have sent everyone into a tizzy. Will this drive hit the radio industry? Confusion regarding this news abounds. While some radio officials dismissed the reports as rumours and said that there was nothing official on this yet, other officials said that the ban was only on loud music.
According to the media reports, the reason for this ban was that no matter how low the volume of music was, it could still lead to distractions and cause accidents. On the face of it, this implies a dent in the Mumbai radio listenership for the sheer loss of audience during drive time.
Following the news reports of ban on radio listening while driving, Big FM and Radio Mirchi had interviewed Harish Baijal, Deputy Commissioner of Police-Traffic. Baijal had said on air that one could listen to music, provided the volume was low so that people around were not disturbed. According to Big FM, the DCP called radio as the travellers’ lifeline, and stated that reports on banning music while driving were only rumours. In this case, there is no clarity on the stipulated decibel that one should not cross.
If the ban on music in cars was to be made official, for many this would be a rude shock. Data shows that car radio listenership in India has a significant chunk of 8 per cent of the entire radio industry pie. A move like this could prove to have a negative impact. Although industry players agreed that loud volume was a nuisance and could be a prime concern for causing accidents, it would, however, be unfair to fine people without mentioning the decibel limit. exchange4media speaks to radio officials to get their views on this.
Ban on car music would have a negative impact on radio industry
Calling the move absurd, Arjun Singgh Baran, Station Director-Mumbai, Big FM, said, “Radio is a free-to-air medium, hence it makes no sense to fine people listening to music in cars. If it happens, it would be ridiculous.” On how such a move would impact the radio industry, Baran said, “It would not happen because such a move is not practical since 8 per cent of the listenership in the entire radio industry comes from car radio listeners. Radio being a background medium does not distract ones’ attention and definitely does not cause accidents.”
Raj Gopal Iyer, Station Head-West, Radio One, commented, “If the decision is made official by the Government, it would be sheer madness and would impact the industry negatively. That said, we are quite confident that the Government would not allow such a rule. It would in a sense be like invading the privacy of the public.”
Kavita Bagga, VP and National Marketing Head, Radio Mirchi, added, “As has been clarified by the Mumbai traffic police, the fine is for people listening to loud, blaring music and not otherwise. It is great to see that Mumbai traffic police is trying to address the problem of not just noise pollution but also public inconvenience caused by loud music coming from some cars. Radio stations should not take this as a hindrance, rather should welcome and accept the decision in a positive way as the traffic police is taking a strong stand, not against listening to music, but to loud music while driving.”
Red FM and Radio City refrained from giving their comments till official announcements were made, while Fever FM officials were unavailable for any comments.
While most in the industry say that there is nothing official on the ban, the industry still seems to be confident that whatever the final word would be on this, it would be in their favour.