Phase II of radio brings opportunities and challenges

Mumbai, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2006, 05:30am hrs
The second phase of privatisation of radio promises to be both challenging and exciting. From 21 stations in 14 cities in the first phase, the figure is set to go up to 280 stations in 91 cities in the second phase.

This not only implies a new lease of life for the medium, but also brings to the fore issues concerningprogramming, advertising sales, engineering, profitability etc, said Sudhir Kumar, director of production and services company Big River Radio at the second day of the Ficci Frames Summit. The investment in radio in the second phase will be around Rs 2,000 crore. Cities on the radar this time are small ones such as Dhule, Thrissur, Aizwal, Jammu. Now where do you have trained radio personnel in these areas Conversely, how informed are audiences on the potential of the medium in these cities, he pointed.

The bigger challenge, according to Kumar, is to be able to reach listeners in their language, dialect and idiom. How do you do that when film music, which is the biggest programming element on a radio station today, is available in about four to five languages only Kumar pointed that there was need for variety in programming, standardisation in financial norms and competency in handling engineering services. There are hardly any trained broadcast engineers, who can maintain studios and transmitters. If a basic certification course could be carried out it could at least get people started in the area of maintenance and engineering services, he maintained.

Incidentally, radios revenue potential in terms of advertising has been going up with the figure standing at Rs 350 crore at the moment from Rs 100 crore about 5-6 years ago.