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Branded 'Big', ADAG's FM venture targets 12 October launch

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MUMBAI: The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) is entering the final stages of preparation for its "Big" bang entry into the FM radio field.

The Ambani brothers are known for doing everything on a big scale and it is certainly no different in this case as younger brother Anil's ADAG gets set to launch its 92.7 FM stations across India. It is only fitting, therefore, that ADAG is launching ahead of the Diwali festive season under the brand name Big Radio.

According to sources, the group is targeting 12 October for the launch of its radio station in cities where the common infrastructure network exists. This includes Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Surat.

Big Radio is expected to be on air in Mumbai first, with a fast-paced rollout in the other cities where the common infrastructure exists. The teams for the radio stations are already in place with radio jockeys and other engineers hired and ready.

Big Radio will be facing a phalanx of established players when it launches services in Mumbai. The group will have to compete with players such as the Times Group's Radio Mirchi, Radio City, Red FM and Radio One (Formerly was known as Go FM), who have been in this game for over five years.

One advantage Big Radio will be looking to leverage upon is the massive mobile phone user subscriber base that sister concern and telecom major Reliance Infocomm provides. Big Radio will be introducing a lot of interactive features with the specific aim of building a community of cell users hooked in to the station, industry sources have told Indiantelevision.com.

Another "Big" advantage ADAG is banking on is that it has the ultimate brand icon in the "Big B" Amitabh Bachchan endorsing the station. If ever there was a case of the brand and the ambassador fitting to a T, it is this.

ADAG originally secured its FM licence through Adlabs Films Ltd (AFL) in which it has a controlling stake. But post the demerger of the radio business, the company has transferred its FM operating units to Reliance Unicom Ltd.

Big Radio will manage 45 FM stations. The frequencies were bought out for approximately Rs 1.60 billion. Initially, the company had bagged the licence for 57 frequencies but had to surrender the licence for 13 cities as per the norms, which do not allow one single company to hold more than 15 per cent of the total allotted frequencies.

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