With Rs 11.5 billion in its kitty, the radio industry is sure going through a stabilisation period but one cannot deny the fact that it still remains the most underpriced medium amongst all.
"And therefore, it's time that the industry starts to shift its focus from FCT and vanilla selling to more value additions. It also needs to start working on IPs to create that differentiation and better brand connect," Harshad Jain, business head, Fever FM noted while addressing the audience during a panel discussion titled 'CEO Roundtable: Let's Get the Bigger Picture.' The discussion was held at the India Radio Forum (IRF), 2012 held in Mumbai.
Moderated by Atul Phadnis, CEO, What's-On-India, the panel also included Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City; B Surendar, senior vice-president and national sales head, Red FM; Harshad Jain, business head, Fever FM; Joy Chakraborthy, CEO, Oye FM; Hitesh Sharma, chief operating officer, Radio Mirchi; and Ashish Chatterjee, CFO, Reliance Broadcast Network (RBNL, representing Big FM).
While the Phase III expansion is expected to create interesting opportunities, add more innovation in content and lend robust growth to the industry, the panellists noted that it is the 'unity' of the radio industry that will ultimately force this growth forward.
Chakraborthy said, "In every industry, there is spending on innovations in a bid to generate more revenues. And, that growth will come in only when there is enough transparency. Therefore, quite like the IBF, the radio industry too has to come together to bring in this transparency."
Purohit, however, contended the thought by stating that radio is still at its infancy and it will take a natural course of time and evolution to reach its own steady and booming growth potential.
"It took years for Zee and STAR to even start talking; and radio is just a 10 year old medium," she exclaimed.
Rather, she elaborated, it is the 'people' that is the single most important element that will help push the industry growth.
"If soap is the product of a television channel, when it comes to radio, people are the products that will either make or break a station," she added.
The panel was optimistic that once Phase III takes place, radio will eventually become the primary source of marketing mix, two-three years following Phase III.
"Currently, radio has only 30 per cent footprint across India but with Phase III, the geographic expansion of the medium will extend in leaps and bounds," Sharma said.
Meanwhile, when Phadnis quizzed the panel as to how the online media platform could be used to extend radio as a platform, Chatterjee of RBNL noted that internet radio could be used as an extension platform.
"It can be used to provide alternate content; content that cannot be offered on mass radio," he said.
Meanwhile, Chakraborthy said that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI's) cap on the duration of advertisements in television channels at 12 minutes per clock hour could be utilised by the radio industry to push revenue growth.
"With less availability of inventory on television, advertisers will look at other marketing platforms; and if radio can position itself strongly, it will be able to attract that inventory," he said.