The Sun Network's FM Radio plan is slowly taking shape. The Group's first stop would be Vizag in Andhra Pradesh, where it hopes to unveil Vishaka FM in June this year. "We will be completely ready for the launch in the next 45 days," says Sharad Kumar, director, Gemini & Udaya TV (Sun Group channels). He will be spearheading the Vishaka FM venture as well. The next stop for the Group would hopefully be Chennai, though the launch details in the city haven't been worked out yet.
"With this, the Sun Group will again have the first mover advantage in this media in the south," opines a media planner based in Chennai. "There is, of course, Radio City, but that is not in a southern language. Whereas, Sun's FM Radio will be in the local language and if it is consistent with its content as it has been with television then it won't find it difficult attracting audiences." Incidentally, Dabur was among the private operators to have bid for the Vizag circle, but has since exited from the race.
And typically, the group that is known for its immaculate style of operation is leaving no stone unturned in its bid to capitalise on the opportunity. "We have acquired office space of about 3,000-sq feet there and we have so managed it that we will be able to put the transmitter on top of the office building. We have also hired 12 people for this project," informs Kumar.
Initially the group is thinking only in terms of regional content, which will be in Telugu. "Though English is very much there on our minds, we will stick to the local language to begin with," says Kumar.
The Group also has licenses to operate FM Radio in Chennai, Coimbatore and Tirunelvelli as well. However, it is only in Vizag that it has managed to put its act together. "The fact that we will have to share the transmission tower with other players in Chennai is what is holding us back there. But these issues are being sorted out," he says.
Meanwhile, media planners say that its foray into FM gives the Group a fine strategic spread in different media, which will help it consolidate its leadership in the region. It will also allow the Group to offer combination packages to clients, though the Sun Group has established for itself a reputation of offering fixed flat rates and not compromise its stand by bundling its channels or offering bonuses and freebies. © 2002 agencyfaqs!