afaqs!

Radio channels douse Delhi fire through on-ground and online platforms

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | January 10, 2013
While Red FM has chosen to simply do away with the terrestrial radio station in Delhi for a few days, Radio City and Radio Mirchi are playing aggressive and continue interactions with listeners on-ground.

On Saturday evening (January 5), a huge fire broke out in the Pitampura area of Northwest Delhi, which burnt the TV tower in the area. In this fire, signals of the three major players in the Delhi radio market, Radio Mirchi, Radio City and Red FM, were disrupted. The cables connecting the transmitters to the aerials were badly damaged and hence, the terrestrial radio under the three brands had to take a couple of days off.

Though the affected stations in Delhi are not functioning, Radio City and Radio Mirchi have initiated attempts to keep in touch with listeners through the online and on ground media. However, Red FM has no such plans and the channel has simply stopped beaming the Delhi station. The station plans to temporarily shift base to minimise the turnaround time.

Nisha Narayanan

Sachin Tagra

Ashit Kukian

Nisha Narayanan, senior VP, Red FM says that though the channel is aware of the loss in listenership, the numbers can be recovered shortly after the channel is on air. "We can't actually talk of ratings since the channel won't be available at all. Yes, the cumes will definitely fall initially, but in the long run, the channel will be able to get them back in place."

In a show of solidarity, the three major players have come together to solve the issue. The channels are working in collaboration to make temporary arrangements for broadcast. The problem is expected to be permanently resolved in 10 days. Meanwhile, temporary arrangements will enable beaming of signals in a day or two.

Radio Mirchi, for this time, has initiated an on-ground activation, where in the channel's RJs are visiting malls in the city (one mall each day) and playing live radio for the listeners. The channel started off with the Metro Walk mall in Northwest Delhi and will also include EDM mall in East Delhi and two others. The channel claims that the activity is a good platform to flaunt the RJs, and give people an opportunity to meet them personally.

Sachin Tagra, senior vice-president, Radio Mirchi states that the channel will be available tentatively by Thursday. Speaking on revenues and advertisers, Tagra says, "Clients are co-operating with us as it is known that this was an unforeseen event. We have had a temporary loss in the revenues, but those will be surely recovered afterwards."

He explains that the advertisers will send in the revised schedule once the station is in place and the FCT would then be carried on.

Meanwhile, Radio City is harnessing its digital platform to keep the interactions going. The channel has diverted its Delhi station feed to its website planetradiocity, and is currently operating through planetradiocity.com/radiocitydelhi. The website also hosts a couple of online radio streams.

Ashit Kukian, president and COO, Radio City 91.1 FM, mentions that the channel is currently putting in all efforts to get things right as soon as possible.

It is learnt that the terrestrial channel should be on-air by Thursday, January 10. However, this will be a temporary arrangement till the infrastructure is restored to its earlier form. Although the digital feed was available within 24 hours of the fire, the channel does not wish to compare the response on the digital platform to that of the terrestrial platform.

While speaking about the revenues and advertisers' reaction to the changed circumstances, Kukian replies that the advertisers have been thoughtful and the channel isn't too concerned about the revenue loss right now. "It is obviously a loss for not being on-air for three-four days. We are missing out on the brand integrated content, too. But we are focussing on setting things right, in the first place," he explains.

Interestingly, integrated content is not really meant for online feed since it requires a different kind of involvement and treatment, and a lot of interaction.

afaqs! tried to explore the effect of the mishap on the listenership numbers and advertisers' responses. Though there were mixed responses on the expected behaviour of advertisers, the industry largely agrees that three players out of the total six major ones going off for about four-five days, will definitely help the others to beef up their numbers.

Madhukar Pandey

"The other important players in the market, Big FM and Fever, will definitely get their own sweet time and opportunity to sample their content to a newer set of audience. Rather, I believe this is also an opportunity for the independent digital radio channels to improve their listenership in the city," states Madhukar Pandey, former head of Central India, Big FM and currently director, Radio Whiskey.

On the advertising and revenue front, radio channels function in a different manner. Advertisers mostly target more than two radio stations in any city for their campaigns, simply because, as explained by a media expert, the reach of each channel is different from that of the other.

"At any place X, one channel may have clear signals and some other would have a weaker one. Due to this, the advertiser never chooses one or two channels but a minimum of three for a campaign. These are more of tactical campaigns,"

adds the media expert.

With this formula, it is believed that not many advertisers would lose hope, if two out of their three selections aren't switched off right now.

However, for the radio channels, it is surely a revenue loss.

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