One of the major drivers that have helped the media industry in India canter along at a blistering pace has been the good old radio. AM, FM and even Satellite Radio have made a huge impact on the Industry in India. The stage is set for major revenue growth among the various Radio Channels.
In fact what we are seeing is not some newfound love for the old medium but just the natural uncoiling of the market after being repressed by the government for decades. In a country where the majority of the illiterate poor have only the Radio as their low cost medium for entertainment and news reception, the Government does not want to give up control. Even now though new FM licenses have been issued all across the country, News-casting has been barred from private Radio Networks.
Private news channels on Television in contrast are now dime-a-dozen. For better or for worse we now get the same bit of news delivered to us on television with sometimes extremely divergent views, spin e.t.c. Sadly Radio has not yet joined that bandwagon.
In fact listening to FM Radio in India is very weird, as it seems too “clean” without the usual news on the hour. Talking about weird of all the things Satellite Radio is here. WORLDSPACE has got around 65000 subscribers in India. That’s two thirds of its entire audience around the world. People say they like it because it is clean without commercials. In most developed markets though where broadband penetration is high people have access to thousands of radio channels via the Internet. Satellite radio hence does not generally do well there. The other limitations of course to satellite radio apart from being expensive to setup, here in India are that its not portable. You are tied down to one receiver and that’s it.
Everything is new and nice at the moment. People in India today are spoilt for choice. Be it any media platform they have a stack of channels to choose from. But the day is not far away when they will realize that the flip side of entertainment is information.
In a way may be it would be much better if the industry could grow slower but in a more complete way. Just having loads of entertainment on the airwaves without some serious Information dispersal seems almost Banana Republic like.
Sasha Masand the founder of Indian Voice Overs is an award winning Television Producer who has been part of the Indian media industry for over twelve years.