India Radio Forum: Radio unaffected by IPL

By Chumki Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 03, 2008
Considering all the benefits of radio, why do advertisers prefer to spend their money on print? The issue was debated at the recent India Radio Forum

Now that & #BANNER1 & # the Indian Premier League (IPL) blitzkrieg is over, the general entertainment channels on TV are looking forward to reviving TVRs. Surprisingly, the one medium that remained untouched by the IPL matches was radio. This was revealed by Apurva Purohit, chief executive officer, Radio City, at the India Radio Forum 2008, held recently in Mumbai. Purohit is also president of the Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI).

Apurva Purohit
According to Purohit, since Phase II of licensing, FM radio covers about 65 per cent of urban India. It is estimated that radio will grow faster than TV year on year. A person spends an average 75 minutes every day listening to radio - three times more time than spent on print. Housewives constitute the largest listeners of radio, which means that radio is skewed towards decision makers. Radio also has the least avoidance, which means advertisers can get exclusive customers.

Considering all the benefits and impact of radio, Purohit said she was surprised that advertisers would rather spend Rs 15 lakh for three prints spots in Delhi and Mumbai newspapers when the same money could give them 760 spots on radio. Why is the share of radio only 3 per cent? she asked.

Answering her own question, Purohit said the radio industry itself is to be blamed for the position it is in today. It has become like a 'sabzi mandi' (vegetable market). But what it needs are believers, not hawkers. She listed some constraints which she felt had hindered the growth of radio:
Restrictive government policies
No multiple licences
No networking and limited FDI
Advertiser inertia
Buying is always rates per station
Lack of original creatives made specially for radio.

Purohit ended her presentation saying, "There is no contesting that everyone in the radio industry is tremendously passionate about radio and the business of radio. However, it is time for us as an industry to showcase the strength of radio, especially the value it stands to deliver to advertisers across the board."

Tarun Katial
Tarun Katial, chief operating officer, Big 92.7 FM, endorsed Purohit's views. His presentation was based on the approach taken by United Supermarkets in the US, as delineated by United Supermarkets CEO Dan Sanders. The approach was simple: While most stores cut costs to survive, United Supermarkets sustained itself with a culture driven, people centred approach to business.

Drawing parallels with the United Supermarkets story, Katial talked about the IT industry in India, and then drew another parallel with the radio industry. Both, he said, have grown from infancy to great heights. Today, radio has 225 stations across 90 cities.

Katial said radio should aim to serve listeners and advertisers. The industry should stop compromising and create a principled business. It should pursue excellence, not mediocrity, by brining in more talented people.