@FF12: Phase III will bring more innovation in radio

16 Mar,2012


By A Correspondent


Radio has often been criticized for lack of content innovation, that all radio stations sound the same and that there is no differentiation in the medium currently. Although contents across all radio channels are more or less restricted to music, it is believed that once FM phase III is rolled out and multiple frequencies allowed by the government, it will lead to more innovations in content and differentiation within the medium itself.


One of the sessions at the FICCI-Frames 2012 was on ‘Radio: Innovations in Content’ wherein industry veterans discussed at length on the innovations in content radio is witnessing currently and the enormous innovation opportunities FM Phase III would allow. While the session was moderated by Apurva Purohit, CEO Radio City, the panel members included Rabe Iyer, Business Head, Big FM; Abhijit Avasthi, Executive Creative Director, O&M; Bhavna Somaaya, Columnist and Writer; and Charles Falzon, Chair of The Radio and Television Arts School of Media, Ryerson University.


Ms Purohit kick-started the session stating that radio currently is in a schizophrenic stage wherein on one hand the medium is witnessing immense growth, it has a huge reach in the country and the FM listenership has also further increased with higher number of mobile phones, whereas on the other hand the overall ad pie of the medium is merely 4 per cent. Ms Purohit also pointed out that in the next two years the industry anticipates another phase of growth which will bring news, sports commentary, multiple frequencies, besides further expansion into towns and cities.


According to Ms Somaaya, “Innovation is a very subjective term and the definition changes from person to person and the state of mind one is in. I believe innovation comes only in content because technology has been exhausted and there is a whole rainbow waiting for us as there could audio books, short stories, debates, helpline etc. Radio therefore is much more immediate that any other medium.”


Speaking about the strengths of radio Mr Avasthi first admitted that out of all the media, it is the toughest to write radio spots. He explained, “The strength of radio I believe is one can conjure up a world in the listener’s mind. What you hear on radio today is mainly restricted to Bollywood music. There are so many kinds of music still to be explored and so many types of content that can be experimented, and to break this format I believe the industry requires some amount of courage to do so.  The moment programming in radio opens up then there will be plenty of interesting opportunities for advertising in radio itself.”


Mr Falzon highlighted the use of digital medium as a complement to engaging the listeners, “We are all experiencing a paradigm shift on how entertainment is being consumed, across the world. India has infact a better opportunity especially with the phase III expansion coming that too at a time we can think about how to use the digital medium. Digital and social media in Canada for example is being used in many ways wherein the entertainment experience of radio has been extended beyond radio.”


According to Mr Iyer, although 80 per cent of content on radio is music and 20 per cent on the packaging of music, there has been some innovation in the medium and with the phase III launch it will bring with it immense opportunities especially on the innovation and differentiation front. Speaking on the reason radio being left out at times during advertising campaigns, Mr Iyer believed the possible reason could be because the industry has not encouraged radio creativity which in itself is a huge opportunity.


The Q&A session which followed the panel discussion saw many people questioning the lack of innovation and the dominance of Bollywood-centric music on radio. The panelists more or less agreed that radio in India has seen lack of innovations primarily because of government restrictions which is most likely to change with FM phase III is rolled out.


Photograph: Fotocorp

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One response to “@FF12: Phase III will bring more innovation in radio”

  1. Prashant Thomas says:

    Waiting for Phase 3 to kick in.
    The coverage in Gujarat is only within the 4 main cities viz ahemdabad,surat,baroda and rajkot.
    But what about other cities? Bhavnagar,Jamnagar and so on.
    Please survey…!