Come to think of it, it's very difficult
to distinguish between two radio stations. They tend to play the same kind of music. The RJs tend to speak in the same tone and crack the same jokes.
But with new FM regulations and the opening up of this sector, Abraham Thomas, COO, RED FM, is confident that every radio station will have to create a distinct identity for itself now.
Thomas says, "With the new FM regulations, the number of stations around the country is only expected to grow. In such a situation, every channel will have to have its unique positioning. Even if it's a music station - which most radio channels are today - every channel will need to be different from the lot. For instance, there could be a radio channel that will cater exclusively to the youth, or college-goers. Similarly, there could be a radio station, which plays songs mainly for housewives."
Regarding RED FM, he says, "We will play only popular music, and position ourselves as a mass channel. In a few months' time, you can actually listen to a song and recognise that it's playing on RED FM."
To achieve this objective, the channel is looking at exclusive tie-ups with music companies, as it has recently done with T-Series.
Further, he says that although the new FM regulations are encouraging, there are several other issues that need to be sorted out. He elaborates, "The private FM radio industry is in talks with the government to remove the ban on news programming. Once, this happens, there can be so many things that one can do with its programming."
Meanwhile, with the new regulations and waived-off license fees, prospective advertisers are expecting the FM radio ad rates to come down. As per industry estimates, the current ad rate on radio channels is at par with some of the niche or news TV channels that have a national reach.
Thomas disagrees. "Advertisers come on radio because of the numbers, it delivers. Anyways, radio is localised and retail-oriented. Even if big corporates advertise on radio, it's because of its local reach. For instance, if a cellular operator advertises in a station in Mumbai, it's for the Mumbai circle."
"To be precise, in the coming times, the top two-three players will actually be in a position to demand a price, as it happens in television," he added.
"Regarding the license fees, even existing players will have to pay a one-time fee this year, which will be an average of all the bids. So, it will take us a year to actually enjoy this benefit. People, who expect us to drop rates, can, therefore, hope for one only after a year," Thomas concluded.
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