History is being made, as India dots itself with a tonne of radio stations which, hopefully, will come to life by the beginning of next year. While bidding for leftover frequencies (from the second phase of FM privatisation) is on full rev, this is also the first time that radio licenses are up for grabs—via an e-auction. In spite of radio being at the bottom of the entertainment pyramid, the cost to obtain a license is humongous, especially in the main cities (if available).
Apart from Fever FM making its presence felt on an already functioning frequency, Chennai will also get a new station. We will know very soon who that player is, once the results are declared by the ministry. The last I checked on the bidding process, there was only a single player on the leader board and the cost of a channel in this city is close to a whopping `30 crore. This is just the license fee and, rest assured, you will have to double that amount to be fully operational.
Today, the bid value must be higher, which brings us to the question: how long before you break even? Big brands have no worries in making the money and that’s why they are the market leaders. It’s the smaller players who find it tough, as they always sport a halo of mediocrity. It’s evident in their content, talent and end product, and that’s why they languish at the bottom. There are quite a few stations that have still not broken even, despite all their gimmicks and stunts. It’s the lack of vision that has made them stagnate.
Delhi is doling out the moolah, with license fees going at over `100 crore, followed by Mumbai which is at about `90 crore and Bengaluru at over `50 crore. In theory, one Salman Khan block-buster could set these stations even. It’s exciting times for Indian radio and I hope this opportunity brings about a fresh new sound to the medium. See you next week.
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.