Indian FM industry is in a schizophrenic phase: Apurva Purohit

FM radio expansion plans are on the horizon but it is still not clear how the medium will bring in content innovation to attract both, listeners and advertisers

e4m by Priyanka Nair
Updated: Mar 16, 2012 9:30 AM
Indian FM industry is in a schizophrenic phase: Apurva Purohit

FM in India celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Even after a decade, the industry is placed last on the advertisers budget chart. A lot of debate has taken place on whether the radio industry can bring about content transformation. The topic was brought to light at FICCI Frames 2012.

Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, is of the opinion that the FM industry in India is in a schizophrenic phase. Purohit shared that in the last few years, the growth phenomenon of the radio industry has become increasingly contextual and complicated. However, a positive sign for the radio industry is that new brand categories have shown interest in the medium but at the same time expectation from the radio medium has increased.

According to the FICCI-KPMG Report 2012, radio’s share in the advertising pie has increased from 3.8 per cent in 2010 to four per cent in 2011. Growing verticals such as retail and services industry performed better in radio spends than the average. On the other hand, financial services and telecom sectors – traditionally heavy spenders on radio – stayed away from the medium due to pressure on the overall macro growth rates.

Radio continues to be a key feature in mobile phones. There are many new players entering the mobile radio space. Going forward, there could be an increased interplay between web radio and mobile applications. Social media can also take content generated by radio to a much larger audience to maximise the reach. This area is not yet exploited to its full potential by radio players.

“If the service providers are able to provide differentiated or personalised content that can also be accessed through applications on smart phones, we will see an emergence of a new medium,” said Purohit.

What is a matter of concern to many advertisers is that innovation in this industry hasn’t yet set path-breaking examples like other mass media. Radio players believe that this is due to the various restrictions laid by the government regulators. Abhijit Avasthi, National Creative Director, O&M said “The most creative challenge that agencies face is in writing radio spots. This is mainly because the medium solely depends on attention-grabbing content. Good content formats can create magic and this can only happen when brands trust radio more.”

With expected revenue growth after Phase III and steps towards resolution of royalty issues, cost economics for the industry have the potential to improve significantly. Permission for multiple frequencies and permission to allow news, sports and current affairs may encourage players to come up with innovative content. However, addition of more stations in metros will be instrumental in driving niche content provided the license fee is adjusted in driving niche non-commercial content such as classical music, regional music or old Hindi classics.

Film music remains the primary format for most of the FM players and there have been limited efforts to drive content innovation. Rabe T Iyer, Business Head, Big FM said, “Players should not just play film music but focus on attractive packaging of music. The best way to do this is to consolidate thoughts of creative agencies, clients and radio players for innovative radio content. This will help the creative agency understand the industry better and the players in turn can bring innovation to the medium.”

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