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Government should restore normalcy in radio sector in desperate times: Nisha Narayanan of Red FM

FM Radio operators in India have sought a bailout package as Government ad spends in the medium continue to decline and as advertisers crunch ad spends due to Covid-19

Nisha Narayanan

The Association of Radio Operations For India (AROI) has written to the Central Government seeking a ‘bailout package’ as the industry faces tough times with a decline in Government ad spends. Anurradha Prasad, President, AROI, wrote a letter to Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting earlier.

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“All private radio stations have come together to appeal to the central government for a set of much-needed reforms which are critical for the radio industry, especially in light of the current economic situation, which has been further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis,” said the AROI President in the letter.

The radio industry has been facing tough times as there is a fall in Government advertising on radio. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has also led to brands and advertisers cutting their ad spends on the medium.

Responding to the situation, Nisha Narayanan, Director and COO, Red FM and Magic FM, said the industry has asked for a three-pronged bailout package. “The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), industry body of private FM channels, is seeking a bailout package from the government in view of the severe impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the industry,” she said.

Narayan said the pandemic has had an impact on the industry. “All private FM radio players have written to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar about the industry going through a tough phase with advertising revenues shrinking over the past year, coupled with a steep fall in government ads, and hoped the government will consider its requests for certain concessions it had sought in December 2019. The impact had worsened with the sudden outbreak of the pandemic Covid-19 globally, leading to services sectors and brands cutting back on advertising spends.”

“The industry has collectively asked for a three-pronged bailout package till the economy stabilises. This included a one-year moratorium on all license fees and charges by the government and Prasar Bharti, and restoration of government advertising on radio, besides clearing the long-pending payments from the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity. We hope that the government helps restore normalcy in this sector in these desperate times,” she added.

Radio is used by the Government for public service advertisements because it reaches far and beyond. Government advertising constitutes 10% of the total industry revenue. The bailout package will bring relief to private radio broadcasters who are currently facing the heat of the economic crunch.

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