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FM radio seeks better listener measurement system
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MUMBAI: Radio broadcasters Wednesday stressed on the need for a standard listenership measurement system while debating on how to grow the local advertising revenue pie.

Attacking the relevance of the IRS survey for the radio sector, Big FM COO Tarun Katial said: “IRS stands for Indian Readership Survey and should be restricted to print. That standard cannot be applied to radio.” He was speaking at the inaugural session of the India Radio Forum.



Countered Radio Mirchi CEO Prashant Panday: “True, a standard listenership measuring system should be there. Until then, we need to depend on the IRS for gauging listenership.”

My FM COO Harrish Bhatia supported Pandey’s statement, suggesting that the entire industry should get together to campaign for a better audience measurement system.

Another topic of concern was local advertising on the medium. “Radio has certainly seen robust growth as a very effective medium for marketing and advertising. Advertising on radio is cost effective, can be easily modified and impacts a large audience in local markets,” offered Radio City CEO Apurva Purohit.

Radio is believed to be local but the advertising from the national segment is much more than the local market. Most radio stations estimate the national market to be around 70 per cent and the local markets to be around 30 per cent. “Local markets are very important but national markets are the ones which get prominence”, said Red FM COO Abraham Thomas.

This is because a lot of awareness building is not being done at the local markets about the reach of radio.

“Radio stations connect with a particular area. Radio needs to re-invent the magic and the local market is very important. Intelligent Talk, Intelligent Radio is where the future lies,” says Chennai Live executive director George M George.


Players also admitted to having invested mostly in the metros and having paid smaller attention to the local areas. Bhatia however disagreed, saying, “Our figures are reverse. We generate around 70 per cent from our local markets and 30 per cent from the national market. People generally blame the slowdown, but that’s more in the mind. In fact, we have grown largely according to industry standards in the last six months.”

“Once, you approach local markets with the kind of marketing and spends they are looking at, then local clients approach periodically as compared to the national clients,” Bhatia added.

To reverse the scenario and going local in a big way, radio stations have to start from scratch. “Print can be a good example on how to reach the local market,” Panday noted. Taking a different approach for each of the local markets will help rake in the revenues, he pointed out.

However, radio is not as inexpensive a medium as is perceived. “It’s as expensive as other media, it’s just that the outlays are lesser. That’s the reason radio turns out cheaper,” Panday said. Katial supported Panday saying radio is ranked after the top three GECS in terms of expenses.
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