Amity Institute and exchange4media organised a panel discussion on the rapidly booming radio business in the country. The topic for the discussion was ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth: has the sudden boom in radio added to its culture?’ The panelists were BAG Infotainment CEO and Association of Radio Operators of India Coordinator Rajiv Mishra, BIG 92.7 FM Programming Head-Delhi Sudha Sadanand, Radio expert Shamshir Rai Lutra, India Beat CEO Samiran Gupta, Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM RJ Saurabh Bhramar, 95 FM Tarka Programming Head-Jaipur Gunjan Batra and the advertiser Parsvanath Developers CEO Sunit Sachar.
Anurag Batra, CEO of exchange4media.com, moderated the session. According to him, “Radio is a very young medium. In India, less than four per cent of advertising revenue is going towards radio. There are many radio channels coming in for good and bad. That is for the panelists to decide.”
Sudha Sadanand said, "Radio is a challenging medium because you connect to people. Radio is something like the voice of God. Ultimately, we are here to play good music. Our music mix is put together after detailed research and understanding of what the local taste is and then accordingly tailor made for each city. We will entertain with responsibility and that's what we are here for."
Shamshir Rai Luthra spoke on the topic on ‘How radio has changed in the last ten years’. “Verbal diarrhoea is the right phrase for the content in radio today. Twenty years ago, no one could express his or her feelings over the radio. I feel everyone has the right to speak out personal feelings. It is important to talk rich and connect with the people.”
Mishra gave an industry view of what is happening in the radio industry. He said that the first phase of bidding of private FM stations was flawed. “Every year, you would have to pay 10 per cent more for licensing. Then in the second phase, things became logical. The revenue sharing was increased by four per cent for licensing. Today, only music is allowed to be aired on radio, while news, current affairs, and sports are not. Twenty per cent of FDI is allowed in radio. But I feel that should be increased to 36 per cent, at least for radio. The third phase will soon take place. Two hundred new radio stations are likely to be launched. Music royalty is also an important issue.”
Samiran spoke on the topic ‘Is Internet radio a threat to commercial radio?’ He explained that royalty issues would surface when Internet radio becomes commercial. “My channel India Beat is heard over 25 countries. I think at college campuses, community radio will be a fantastic way of expression. Internet radio is not threatening terrestrial radio. It is important to give credit to the artiste who has sung the song.”
According to Bhramar of Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM, “A lot of RJs haven’t been promoted by radio stations. Those stations know how to build their own brands, without relying on the popularity of the RJs. And what is bad about playing only Hindi music? There are no advertisers on radio stations playing English music. There is also a shortage of good RJs. Good training and proper equipment should be essential for training RJs. At the same time, innovative advertising is also required.”
Batra of 95 FM Tarka Jaipur said, “New people are constantly coming into Jaipur. We have two hours of English music playing every night. Newspapers support radio in a big way in Jaipur. There is a local connect with radio. The more local you get, the more local flavour you are able capture.”
Sachar of Parsvanath Developers said, “There are too many advertisers on radio. Too many cooks spoil the broth, but more room for competition can also lead to greater efficiency and better price. Majority of listeners want Hindi music, so it is Hindi music that is popular. The scriptwriter too has a significant role to play. He brings in maximum value and yet he is not spoken about on radio. We need to have better styling and better scripting too. Also, there are too many advertisers on radio and the rates of channels have also come down. This will further deteriorate the service. The government needs to control the price of channels.”