Radio Mirchi to launch visual radio in Delhi

MUMBAI: Radio Mirchi will unveil a visual radio in Delhi by the end of this month, making it the third city in the world to adopt a technology that will open up a new revenue for the private FM radio operator.

Radio Mirchi is partnering with Hutch and Airtel to offer this service. The broadcast will be available on Nokia mobile phones with Hewlett-Packard (HP) as the technology provider.

"We have identified four key markets including Mumbai for launching visual radio. Though it is too early to exploit strong revenues from this medium, it will give us a presence in emerging platforms like mobile phones," says Entertainment Network (India) Ltd managing director and CEO AP Parigi.

Radio Mirchi will speed ahead of Virgin Radio which is planning to launch visual radio later this year. "We are doing test runs and will launch it this year," says Virgin Radio UK director of digital media James Cridland.

Helsinki in Finland and Singapore are the other two places where visual radio has kicked off commercially. The plan to launch in Delhi was announced today by Radio Mirchi deputy-CEO Prashant Pandey at the India Radio Forum 2006.

Radio stations are turning to new revenue streams as they are facing competition from emerging technologies. Specific threats from MP3, which had an estimated 55 million devices in the market in 2005, and internet webcasting are eating into the earnings of traditional radio. So the way out is to adopt into new digital platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) and digital audio broadcasting (DAB).

Virgin is moving its content to such platforms. "About 28 per cent of our audience is coming from new platforms. As for visual radio, it is important to have a presence in this segment. Nokia will have 100,000 handsets in UK for visual radio by the end of the year," says Cridland.

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