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How large is your radio market both in terms of number of radio stations (public and private) and overall advertising revenue (in USD)?
The Indian radio market falls into four categories:
- All India Radio. This is the public broadcaster. It has a monopoly over short wave and medium wave broadcasts and also about 200 FM stations.
- Private FM radio stations. These are 381 stations across major towns and cities of India. They operate under a 15-year license. The Association of Radio Operators for India, and I as its Secretary General, represent this category. All India Radio has also been invited to join AROI.
- Community Radio Stations. These are not-for-profit low range radio stations.
- Web Radio. This is unregulated and unstructured.
Overall radio advertising revenue is about half a billion US dollars. This is across all radio categories, with private radio stations having over 80% of the share.
Has your radio audience grown over the COVID pandemic, and how does it look now?
Post-COVID listenership grew more than 20%.
How has radio advertising revenue performed over the same period?
Advertising fell by 50%. It is recovering now.
What is the most important new opportunity that radio stations in your market are pursuing in terms of investment in capital and human resources?
Right now, the focus is on increasing both listenership and advertising.
What seem to be the most challenging technological, programming, strategic and/or sales goals among radio owners in your market?
The major issues are:
- Freedom to air news and current affairs. Right now, the Indian government only allows the public broadcaster to air such content.
- Increasing the limit of stations per operator. Right now, country cap of total radio stations is 15%, which limits the growth of larger operators. Smaller operators are either regional or they don’t survive.
How advanced is your market in terms of the transition of FM radio operators into audio streaming, audio on demand and digital radio such as DAB or DRM?
Radio in India is free-to-air and cheap to access with low-cost receivers. Until affordable digital receivers are available, there would be little market for digital (DRM or DAB).
What regulatory body oversees radio in your country, and who is the best contact person?
Private media in India work through a self-regulatory mechanism. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is the government body that regulates technical issues to do with broadcasting.
Are there other noteworthy radio industry organizations in your country? If so, who are they?
Radio associations also exist for community radio stations, and they are numerous.
Uday Chawla, Secretary General Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI)