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Radio poised for rapid OOH growth























MUMBAI: Advertiser apathy and crippling music royalties are eating away at the FM radio indstry in the country, that‘s registering fast growth and is poised to grow even bigger in the coming months with the increasing penetration of mobile phones.


Industry players, who converged at the "Radio Rocks" session on the second day at Frames 2008 were unanimous in their opinion that while radio is increasingly emerging as a sexy medium that captures more attention than TV, it is still perceived as a passive medium by the advertiser.


Radio Mirchi CEO Prashant Panday in fact averred that the industry has grown at a rate of 55 to 60 per cent over last year, a figure much higher than the PwC report that estimates radio growth at 24 per cent.


"Radio is a sexy urban medium that one consumes on a daily basis, and people spend more time on radio than on TV," he pointed out.


Advertisers however are not looking at radio as a medium that can deliver on a local basis, with separate creatives for separate markets, he rued. Red FM COO Abraham Thomas agreed, saying that operational efficiency still drives radio revenues although "radio has moved beyond radio."


"Radio rocks because radio is simple to access and use, and 49 per cent of listeners have radio on their mobile phones," Abraham said. While out of home listening will grow faster in the coming months, content creation too has changed to adapt itself to various media like television and mobile, said Abraham.


Concurred Tata Teleservices VAS and Enterprise Market planning president Pankaj Sethi, " ‘Not at home‘ opportunities will grow. 50 to 60 per cent of handsets today are already FM enabled".


"85 per cent of radio listeners are still at home", Sethi said, adding that the patterns of radio listenership will change when the nature of content changes with the advent of genres like news and sports and different formats, allowing radio to monetise content and claim its share of the Rs 70 billion VAS market in the country.


However, radio stations will continue to be unviable till the issue of music royalties is settled, Panday said. "125 of the 200 odd stations currently operational in the country are financially unviable due to the crippling royalties charged by ‘monopolistic patterns followed by the music industry‘", he added.


"If radio spreads, the music industry will do better. You download songs when you hear it on radio first," he pointed out.


Radio Today Broadcasting COO Anil Srivatsa, one of the few players who plays differentiated content on radio, stressed that the medium needs to raise its own respectability, if it has to be taken seriously by the advertising and media planning community.

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