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United Radio UK launches India operations; may set up radio news agency

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United Radio UK launches India operations; may set up radio news agency

The Indian radio industry can now look to international expertise to improve their ratings and increase their revenues with London-based international radio consultancy company United Radio setting up office in India. Said to be the first such consultancy in India, United Radio aims to provide its services to existing operators, investors, the Government and regulatory bodies.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Big River Radio has merged all its consultancy work with United Radio, however, all products and services for radio, which include airtime sales, content generation, station management, recruitment and so on, will continue to be under Big River Radio.

United Radio’s India operations will be headed by Sunil Kumar, one of the leading consultants in the Indian radio industry. Kumar is said to have advised the Bhaskar Group, the Muthoot Group, Lokmat Publications, Neutral Publishing, CCL Media and several other promoters of radio companies in India. He has also headed the radio business of Mid-Day Multimedia and Zee Telefilms.

In a prepared statement, Sunil Kumar, MD, Big River Radio, and India partner, said, “The knowledge and experience that United Radio brings from radio businesses across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia will work as a catalyst for the growth for our relatively young Indian market. We will combine this experience with our in-depth understanding of the media behaviour of the Indian audiences at all geographic, social and economic levels to offer our clients innovative programming strategies, training, format solutions and well defined tactical products. We have developed some exciting India specific services and solutions, which we’ll announce soon.”

United Radio has been the consultant to Malayalam Manorama’s Radio Mango and Radio City for their programming and music strategies in the past. The focus of the company will be on creating new programming formats, setting up newsrooms and providing training to existing operators. It will also provide business planning and support services to the new entrants in the radio business, following the likely announcement of the Phase III of FM licensing in India early next year, as indicated by Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni at the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum on November 9, 2009.

United Radio is also in talks with several companies in India to set up probably the country’s first Radio News Agency, which will provide content for news and current affairs activity either directly to private radio stations or through All India Radio. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is said to be considering allowing news broadcast on private FM radio stations.

‘2010 will be a landmark for the Indian radio industry’

In conversation with exchange4media, Paul Chantler, Director and Senior Partner, United Radio spoke at length about the significance the India operation would have on the country’s radio industry, his priorities in 2010, and the challenges or concerns faced by the Indian radio industry.

Chantler said, “United Radio is a consultant company, which aims to help and support the radio industry. The significance of opening our India office is mainly keeping an eye on the year 2010, which we believe will be a landmark year for the Indian radio industry, and with news and current affair being aired, we see enormous potential for the industry in addition to its enriching music. India has tremendous appetite for news, however, radio has been left behind in carrying news and information. The biggest success stories in the UK are from news and talk stations. And that’s the reason there is great opportunity in India with the opening of news and current affairs.”

“I also see opportunity to improve music radio stations further, RJ and talent improvement, and thirdly, we are in talks with a several companies in India to set up India’s first Radio News Agency,” he added.

On his priorities for the India operations, Chantler said, “We view the Indian radio Industry with a lot of respect. Private radio in the UK took 36 years to develop, but the development rate in India has been enormous, the growth has been extraordinary and will further increase next year with Phase III licensing, thus allowing more choice for advertisers and audience.”

He noted, “In the age of the Internet, radio is still relevant in the UK. In fact, radio is enjoying its highest share of listenership and the reason is simply because there is such a wide variety of format to listen to. In India, however, at the moment Indian radio is all music; we believe that there is much more to radio than music and vast amount of other format.”

One of the biggest problems faced by Indian radio industry, according to Chantler, was lack of product differentiation. “Many radio stations sound the same. It is tackling this problem that is our priority,” he said.


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