Times Group mulls launch of television channel

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 29, 2003
After radio, the Times Group is contemplating the launch of a television channel. But that will happen next year

"Television is definitely on our radar and you will see us in the medium next year," Vinit Jain managing director, The Times Group, told agencyfaqs!, during a press meet in the capital yesterday to announce the launch of the group's FM radio channel Radio Mirchi in the city. Jain refused to be dragged into a discussion on the modalities of the launch though. Radio was top on his agenda last evening.

In fact, Delhi witnessed the simultaneous launch of the three private FM players - Radio City 91 FM, Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM and Red FM 93.5 FM - midnight yesterday. While Red FM had a relatively quiet launch, the three stations will take the route of multimedia campaigns, coupled with innovative ground level promotions to get a share of the Delhiite's mindspace. According to industry sources, the three FM channels have invested close to Rs 3.5 crore in promoting their respective frequencies in April alone.

Like the other two channels (Radio City and Red FM), Radio Mirchi too has excluded English from its current offering. The programmes seem to be tailored to suit the needs and aspirations of local listeners - Delhiities - as suggested by the research done by all the three players. All three claim to be doing a better job of attracting the masses than their competitors, though it's too early to decide who will finally lead the pack.

However, Radio Mirchi brass is upbeat about its prospects and cites research findings in the markets it operates in to prove a point. Says AP Parigi, Bennett Coleman's Entertainment Network India Ltd. (ENIL) MD and CEO, "in Indore, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Pune, the reach of radio as a medium has jumped three-fold after Radio Mirchi's launch. Even the average daily listening time has jumped by 50 per cent. Mumbaikars listen to radio for almost 120 minutes daily, which is a significant achievement in today's media clutter."

The most significant finding of the research, according to Parigi, is " 90 per cent of the population in the age group of 15-35 and in the SEC A and B listen to radio". He adds, "This age group is considered the target for any advertiser. This has helped Radio Mirchi attain leadership status in revenues. In fact, we have started seeing a cash inflow. Of course, that does not mean we have become profitable."

The station has roped in national advertisers such as Maruti, Hutch, Ranbaxy, Motorola and Seagram's and local advertisers such as retailer Sirs & Hers, restaurants like Fortune Cookie and Ansals. Says Nandan Srinath, Radio Mirchi's Delhi station head, "Most of our programmes are sold out. Our drive-time programmes (that is, from 8.00 am to 10.00 am) such as Morning Drive Time, Temperature Check and Traffic Beat are packed with advertisers."

Getting advertisers is extremely important for radio stations, if only to recover a part of the investment made. To give an idea of the kind of investments some of these channels have made, Radio Mirchi has invested a total Rs 150 crore in setting up stations in Mumbai, Indore, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai (which will go on air in the next 10 days), Bhubaneshwar and Jabalpur (which will be operational in the next quarter) and in getting the license to operate the channel. Whereas Radio Today (Red FM) has borne close to Rs 40 crore as infrastructural costs in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata (to go on air shortly) and as license fee.

"The license fee is 65 per cent higher than the operational cost," avers Parigi. Internationally, the private players are allowed to air news and current affairs; if the same is allowed in India, Parigi is confident the market will grow manifold.

And if one misses English programmes, there is AIR FM, or, as Vinit Jain says, "One would have to wait for the launch of a second channel to listen to some English music." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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