Star-backed private FM station Radio City launching 3 July

The first anniversary of Star India’s flagship channel Star Plus becoming a 24-hour Hindi channel - 3 July - has been chosen as the kick-off date India's first private FM radio station, Radio City.

Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea confirmed this on the sidelines of a press conference at south Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel celebrating his team's achievements in taking Star to the top of the satellite television heap.

With Radio City's scheduled launch in Bangalore, capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Star completes all but one part of its "grand vision to become a multimedia company into radio, Internet partnerships, cable partnerships and films." Film production now remains the only activity that Star is not currently involved with.

Mukerjea is gung ho about the prospects of FM in India and says: "Radio will expand the market significantly. We expect a whole new set of advertisers to enter the field once FM really takes off."

"I have always been positive about radio," Mukerjea said, pointing out that in India only 1 per cent of the ad pie went to radio while abroad it was 10-12 per cent. This was what was waiting to be tapped, he said.

Queried on Star's stake in Radio City, Mukerjea said content, ad sales and marketing support was its responsibility. The PK Mittal-promoted Music Broadcast Pvt Ltd (MBPL) is the licence holder for the new radio station while the operational part is reportedly with Digiwave, a 50:50 JV between Star and the Ispat group.

The radio station was initially christened Radio 1 but the Mumbai-based Mid-Day publishing group raised objections as it held the rights to the name, after which Star plumped for Radio City.

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