Suryan, the FM channel band promoted by Kalanithi Maran's Sun Network, is ready to hit the airwaves in the south of India. Slated for launch in Coimbatore and Tirunelveli on March 7, and in Chennai from mid-April, Sun will be the first off the block to occupy the FM space in this region. In Coimbatore and Chennai, the band will operate on 105.8 MHz and on 106.8 MHz in Tirunelveli. Each of the three stations will cover a radius of 100 km and available to 60-65 per cent of the population. For the record, Sun's Telugu FM band Visakha went on air on February 9 from Visakhapatnam.
In keeping with government regulations, which bars radio from airing news, Suryan's programming will be entertainment-led. With music as the basic plank of programming, the channel hopes to rope in a wide base of audience. According to an official statement, the programming on the channel will be "highly interactive and localised." The statement adds, each new station will be independent and will attempt to retain a regional flavour.
Unsurprisingly, the network, which has been in the forefront of C&S television coverage in the south, is pitching its new FM band to media planners as a "value-for-money medium for advertisers". According to Suryan executives, "For the first time, local advertisers will have a high quality broadcast medium within their reach. Rates are competitive and the response, no doubt, will be phenomenal." Also, thanks to the huge film library and copyrights owned by the group, it already has access to over 35,000 film songs, which will hopefully give a leg-up to Suryan.
However, the going won't be too easy for the new FM channels down south. While in Tirunelveli and Coimbatore, Sun is likely to reap the benefits of being the first - or for that matter the sole - mover, the real battleground will be Chennai, where, besides The Times Group's Radio Mirchi, Suryan will have to contend with AIR's FM bands, and be transmitted through a common transmitter as well.
However, the Sun group plans to spare no efforts to prop up its FM band. The advertising campaign for Suryan created by JWT (which bagged the account on the back a successful association with group TV channel KTV) is scheduled to break in early March. According to Jayraj Rau, vice-president & client services director, JWT, Chennai, a short teaser campaign will precede the main campaign. To pique interest it will just say "Ketingala, ketingala" (did you hear?), and then go on to say that people can now look forward to something special. Since the concept of FM is young, the agency is working on a youthful and funky image for Suryan. "The state (Tamil Nadu) is somewhat conservative. Hence being too frivolous or superficial can tick people off. So we are looking at a happy balance that takes into count the sensitivities of people," adds Jayraj.
The campaign will largely concentrate on the outdoors and will use all the Sun Network channels. Internal surveys by the company have shown that ownership of radio sets is not too high in the state. So the agency plans to also work at making FM sets as widely available as possible and to this end the company plans to tie up with radio manufacturers to goad them to produce cheaper radio sets. The company however is not ready to reveal more on this. Jayraj says, "At this stage, through promotions and events, we are actually seeing to it that people get to own FM sets. There will be many passive listeners of FM, where a man hearing FM will inspire the neighbour to acquire one as well! In the third stage, they will be encouraged to acquire a stereo set," he says.
As is obvious, the battle for the southern airwaves is hotting up! © 2003 agencyfaqs!