Intnl radio stns will soon enter India: Amitabh Srivastava

09 Mar,2012

By Robin Thomas

 

Amitabh Srivastava is the Country Manager – South Asia, Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Prior to working with Radio Netherlands, Mr Srivastava was the Director, Affiliate Relations at Walt Disney Company and General Manager at TV Today where he worked for a total of five years. In conversation with MxMIndia’s Robin Thomas, Mr Srivastava spoke at length on the six-year-long journey of Radio Netherlands in India, on phase III developments, various initiatives of the Dutch international broadcaster in India and much more.

 

Q: Radio Netherlands has been in India for the last six years. How would you rate the year 2011 for RNW and the journey since the India launch?

Radio Netherlands Worldwide had exponential growth, both in terms of brand building and our key responsibility areas of promoting issues related to human and nature welfare. Our milestones were partnership with Reliance and State Radio Service AIR on co-production, which propelled the growth from thousands to millions. Apart from this, we have also tied up with regional and university radio – IGNOU Gyanwani, which has equally benefited us to mark our footprints in smaller areas, thus leading to a gradual development in this part of the world.

 

Q: How are you viewing the Indian market from the radio perspective?

India is a big nation and above all a huge audience size to attract any international broadcaster. Its diverse nature and broad media landscape ensures that any broadcaster invests resources on both commercial and for welfare means.

 

Q: You had launched web and mobile sites Lovematters.info and Lovematters.in in November 2011; how has the response been so far? How do you plan to take this initiative forward?

We had an overwhelming response and great uptake from our partners on both the versions of the websites. We had tie up with Reliance to launch the WAP version of the site which has been a great success. Also we had marketing campaigns (On Ground and Web) with various web portals and campuses which resulted into further promotion of our websites. We are also trying to get partnership with other telecom operators on pay mode to ensure sustainability in a longer run. FPA (Family Planning Association of India) also joined hands with us for this noble cause.

 

We are planning to launch Love Matters to other parts of the world, for example in Latin America.

 

Q: There are so many websites and information available on sexual health; how is Lovematters any different? How does the mobile site work? Is there a separate team working on these sites?

We are an independent broadcaster which provides reliable information. Also, we have experience in making journalistic content for a young audience. It’s a one-stop solution and a comprehensive database for all sexual-related issues. It is to have a Dutch purview, but has been customised especially for the Indian audience with its cultural sensitivities taken care of.

 

We have the mobile site on the WAP model on a lighter version which works quite brilliantly on the GPRS mode too. We have a dedicated editor in India as well as a complete editorial and technical team already on it from Hilversum, Holland.

 

More so looking at the response we have a Hindi website too, which is www.lovematters.in.

 

Q: Besides the audience, are advertisers, particularly youth marketers keen on advertising on the website?

We are a state-funded organization, hence this is no issue for us.

 

Q: In 2010 Radio Netherlands tied up with Web 18 for news on in.com as well as for international music on their website. Tell us more about how the deal has shaped up today? What are the other digital technologies you have invested in?

Yes indeed we had a tie up with Web 18 for their web portal www.in.com. We are successfully running our strategic partnership with RNW music content on their sites as web stream radio and experienced good uptake by our listeners.

 

We have developed APPS for Apple products, RNW Apps (Light Version) and other application programming Interface to strengthen our footprints in the new media.

 

Q: Are you observing the FM phase III developments? The government has given its nod to air news on FM radio sourced from the government-owned All India Radio (AIR). FDI limit has been marginally increased from 20 to 26 per cent, there will be additional 800 stations in 300 new cities. How does Radio Netherlands India view all these developments?

With this initiative I am sure many of the international broadcasters will try to base themselves, which will further enhance the need for talk radio which is already an established model on the global platform. The embargo on news and current affairs in India will be lifted as a result of this initiative, thus giving us more space to do some quality partnering with FM channels.

 

Q: Are there any specific challenges that a foreign media faces when it enters the India market especially from a radio perspective? In a few years from now do you see these challenges being met or overcome?

As stated, I believe, soon we will find the Indian radio industry catering to audiences from a global perspective. Besides this, since a new investment opportunity will also lift the embargo on news and current affairs, it will also make talk radio available in India. Hence I am hopeful to see these developments in the near future.

 

Q: Do you agree that radio is a highly regulated medium in India and that it needs to be self-regulated?

Yes radio is regulated to some extent which encompasses a restrictive circle to adhere to. In my opinion, we must have news and current affairs also to be part of the programming rights which will certainly prove a boon to the radio industry, as Bollywood songs and other contents are being exploited to a much desirable extent in other forms of media as well.

 

Q: What are some of the lessons the Indian radio industry can learn from their international counterparts?

Interactivity is the element that seems to be missing in the FM channels in India. Talk radio is the key to ensure that we have the missing piece in place. We are seeing the same already running successfully on the global platform.

 

Q: Can you throw some light on the India-specific plans of Radio Netherlands? What is the business like in the South Asian markets?

Radio Netherlands Worldwide needs to cut 70 per cent of its budget from 2013. We will focus entirely on making journalistic content to encourage free speech. It’s difficult to say anything about plans for the South Asian markets, because that’s still undecided.

 

Q: How different is the radio industry in, say, Pakistan or Sri Lanka?

The South Asian subcontinent on the landscape has primarily the same behaviour. Hence I don’t see any structural difference, however I do agree that press freedom is much curtailed and there is lack of free speech in these countries as compared to India.

 

Q: What is the team size in India and in other South Asian markets? Any expansion plans?
In India we have an office in New Delhi and dedicated producers for All India Radio co-productions. Apart from the distribution team we also have an editor based in the same region too.

 

Q: On a lighter note what is a typical day like for Mr Amitabh Srivastava, Country Manager- South Asia, Radio Netherlands Worldwide?

Well, I work in two countries at the same time. All my partners and potential partners work according to IST (Indian Standard Time) which normally starts at 10am, and since I have my team in Hilversum hence I have to work till the office timings in Netherlands which is 11pm IST. I enjoy being busy!! Plus I love meeting people and also spent good amount of time on social media for personal and professional reasons which helps me a great deal.

Post a Comment 
  • Bonny Shweta

    speechless………wonderful.u deserve many more

  • Rahul

    Hi, I find the ideas exciting. Is there a way I can connect with Mr. Shrivastava. My id is rahul@swiftworld.com. Tks-

  • http://www.facebook.com/virendra.nekya Virendra Nekya

    you are a lighthouse in indian brodacasting industry. you are a genious .

  • http://twitter.com/zoneofsilence zoneofsilence

    I am a radio personnel (have been an RJ ) and am a compere andwould love to connect with Amiitabh Srivastava for some good opportunities.

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