The FM explosion in Mumbai set off by WIN 94.6 (Millennium Broadcast), Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM (Entertainment Network India), Radio City 91 FM (STAR Network), GO 92.5 FM (Mid-Day Multimedia) and Red 93.5 FM (Living Media) provided a streak of hope for the long neglected radio industry. Today each one of the private FM players has been forced to revise its strategy - for survival. If this is any indication of the unrest in the private FM space, which is still trying to come to grips with the imposing licence fees - only nine remain of the original 23 who had thrown their hats in the ring.
Radio Mirchi is no exception. First, it dropped the circles of Cuttack, Hyderabad and Lucknow. Now, it is rejigging its war plan and targeting the masses in a big way. For the record when the FM channel made its debut, the content was predominantly English songs. Now, unmistakably, it is more Hindi.
"If an amount close to Rs 8 crore is at stake who would want to cater to that tiny English-speaking population? I would not get sponsors for an hour of jazz or rock. WorldSpace is there to fill up that space," remarks an official of a private FM station echoing what must be on the mind of Radio Mirchi officials. Admits Nandan Srinath, station head, Radio Mirchi, "Most of the programmes on our channel will be based on Hindi songs and the presentation will be in the style and manner closet to the language of the streets, the language of the masses."
With most channels banking on Hindi music, what would be the key differentiator for the channel then? The past strategy of promoting frequencies only added to the confusion. While that may still be part of their promotion plans, packaging is what will set one apart form the other. Elaborating on that point Srinath, says, "The challenge first lies in creating the desire to tune in. While all of us will continue to harp on the frequencies because that is, after all, our identity, advertising will play an important role in creating the personality of the channel. It will be the creative tag for the brand."
Radio Mirchi's ad campaign is likely to break in a couple of weeks targeting television and print. Besides Delhi, Radio Mirchi plans to flag off its services in Kolkata and Chennai soon. "The advertising budget is in the vicinity of Rs 2 to Rs 2.5 crore," reveals Srinath. The channel brass hopes innovative on ground activities will also contribute to brand recall. To that end, Radio Mirchi has inked a year's contract with Ansal Plaza, a shopping mall in south Delhi, where common areas (outside shops) will only play Radio Mirchi. The station is looking at similar tie-ups in other cities.
The channel realises that it is the content and the presentation, which will ultimately retain the listener. "We have put our jockeys through very rigorous training. The attitude of the channel after all comes through the jockeys," says Srinath, who feels Mirchi has got a good team in place. Meenaskhi Rani (of All India Radio fame) is now a presenter with Mirchi. "Abhinav Chaturvedi, Pallavi Rao and Fizza Khan, programming supervisor, make a good team. To my mind, the style of presentation coupled with good content is what will win the hearts of people."
Srinath is upbeat about the potential of Delhi as a radio market. "The best part about Delhi is its higher adoption compared to other metros - there is more acceptability in Delhi. That is the reason for the huge media consumption in Delhi," reasons Srinath. More importantly, the chances of getting local advertisers are brighter. "Radio is a cost effective medium. Once the medium is able to create that bond with the masses, local advertisers will definitely come on board," hopes Srinath.
"The other advantage Delhi has over Mumbai is the character of the Delhi traffic," continues Srinath, "The rush hours in Mumbai are typically between 7.00 am and 10.00 am. In the case of Delhi, there are two distinct streams of traffic. One that sets out from home at about 8:30 in the morning - these are the executives. The second wave begins at 10.00 am. These are the small businessmen, traders etc. A similar trend is seen in the evenings during the reverse drive time. The first flow of traffic comprises people from the government sector and the second flow that hits the roads at about 8.00 pm is essentially private sector employees. This phenomenon gives the radio station a wider listenership compared to Mumbai."
Industry observers say, over the next couple of years, 70-80 per cent the radio ad pie (of Rs 10-10.5 crore) will be comprised of national advertisers. But the revenue from local advertising - though not sizable at this point in time - is what will push future growth. Mirchi has priced its rate card quite competitively to woo advertisers. Radio Mirchi will charge Rs 3,000 during 8.00 am-10.00 am; Rs 2,500 for 6.00 pm-8.00 pm; Rs 2,000 for 7.00 am-8.00 am, 10.00 am-11.00 am, 5.00 pm-6.00 pm and 8.00 pm-9.00 pm. For non-prime time slots the rate is Rs 1,200. All these rates are for 10-second slots.
As Mirchi gets ready to set foot in Delhi, two more channels - Radio City and Red FM - warm up to give it a run for its money. Mirchi executives hope its past experience with Times FM will come in handy in outwitting competition. © 2003 agencyfaqs!