The Co-operative Global Radio Memories Project
Even though advertising crept up only slowly, and the government continued to pussyfoot around the issue of allowing news and current affairs on private radio, the mood stayed upbeat throughout the radio industry. With phase II of FM opening up the industry for private players, there was no holding back.
Consider these figures. In 2006, 26 private FM stations were operationalised. In contrast, AIR saw ten FM stations operationalised in 2004 and an equal number in 2005, with just two in 2006.
By October 2007, a total of 281 FM channels include 161 of All India Radio and 120 privately owned channels were operational.
By the year end, there was a scramble among operators to put up stations in the 91 cities for which licenses had been doled out - held up in many places by the government's delay in activating the transmission towers. It was no mean task. Entities like Big FM and Sun's SFM have a quota of 45 stations each to put up, Mirchi has 32 and Bhaskar, the late entrant hurried to put up 17 stations on air. Most have reached their targets, some like BAG Films' Dhamaal is yet to launch in four cities, and India Today's Meow has five more cities in its kitty.
The core content, despite the operators' insistence to the contrary, stayed what the listener apparently wanted the most - Bollywood music.
Music all the way
They gave it their own tags - superhit music, hot
adult contemporary music, latest hits - but the fact
remained that recent Bollywood music played on most
stations throughout the day, with experiments like
western music and 'old' tracks relegated to the very
early mornings or the very late nights.
It was the myriad contests that remained the nectar to attract the bees, however. In the absence of a regular audience tracking methodology till October end, when TAM's Radio Audience Measurement came into being, contests and big prizes stayed the carrots with which stations enticed listeners, who in the absence of differential programming, exhibited no real station loyalty.
CSR also remained a strong buzz word on radio - from distributing raincoats to traffic police paying tribute to Kargil martyrs , aiding the flood hit in Rajkot to spreading AIDS awareness among truck drivers, the initiative also became a good on ground activity to popularise the stations.
'Ad'ding up the revenues
Overall radio advertising revenue, that was at Rs 3180
million in 2005, was expected to touch around Rs 6800
million this year, a figure that would still be around
six per cent of the total ad pie.
A measure of success
All India Radio
The reign of the unchallenged state sponsored monarch
was challenged in a big way in 2007, but some of the
RAM figures indicate that AIR's own FM, operational
even in border areas where terrrestrial reach is a
problem, continues to hold its own. AIR also continues
to enjoy a monopoly on news and current affairs aes
well as live cricket commentary, an area that gives it
a huge edge over private FM competitors. The other
player in the satellite space, Worldspace Radio, did
not fare much better, despite innovations like a tie
up with MSN India for streaming its content online.
Code of conduct
The year wasn't without its share of controversy. Uninhibited chatter by radio jockeys turned into a crisis of sorts when the north east erupted over a wayward comment on the Indian Idol winner. The case still hangs fire.
Needless to say, the sudden spurt of FM brought with it a fresh wave of young listeners, a wave aided in no small measure by the increasing reach of the mobile phone, which came loaded with the FM features. Over 85 per cent of radio listenership in metros by the end of the year happened on the move. The figures will only go up this year. Whether the curve is matched by an increased burst of creativity now remains to be seen.
For regular newsletters and information about the constantly
changing Indian radio scene, we recommend indiantelevision.com
and its partner website www.radioandmusic.com.
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