Radio buzz is low, but FM fairly crackles - NRS 2002

Has television killed the radio star in India?

Marginally, if the National Readership Survey 2002 is to be believed. While urban radio reach has dipped from 27 million homes to 24 million homes in the last three years, rural radio reach has taken a lesser beating - standing at 30 million homes today as against 31 million homes in 1999.

Private FM players can however take heart at the thought that the decline has not been in the top eight metros in the country, but instead in the smaller one to five lakh population towns. As a matter of fact, among the 48 million adults who listened to radio in the last three months, 31 per cent or 15 million tune on to any FM station - an increase of six per cent since 2001. While the audience base of radio listeners widens, the AIR primary audience base has decreased from 48 per cent to 42 per cent in the last three years, says the survey.

NRS monitored audiences during January and March 2002, during which Bangalore noted an increase of 15 per cent in radio listenership, while Lucknow detected a 20 per cent increase. But it is the smaller cities like Jaipur and Vishakhapatnam, apart from Pune and Ahmedabad which have recorded a stupendous increase in radio listenership. The typical radio listener, says the survey, is a male (15-24 year old) from the SEC A and B categories, mostly a student (21 per cent) or a young executive (19 per cent), reads English publications - particularly sports and business magazines, is addicted to the Net (13 per cent) and loves to watch Channel V and MTV. He prefers his own set of wheels, owns an upmarket house, a PC and of course, a cell phone. 

NRS also studied his listening habits and found that places like Lucknow even switch on FM during TV prime time hours. The average tuning time stays at two hours in the morning, and ditto in the evening, the study notes. NRS 2002, which also tracked the changing face of the 'urban gharwali', noted that while her radio consumption has gone down from 71 to 64 minutes, her access to FM has shot up from the earlier 19 per cent to 25 per cent. 

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