Nov 14, 2008

Business - India;FM radio gung-ho over political ads

Seema Sindhu

Revenue growth expected after EC nod

Advertising agencies handling campaigns for political parties have begun approaching radio channels to formulate their advertising plans, even as the Election Commission (EC) is yet to give its nod to such ads on the medium.

Pallavi Burman, national sales head, Fever FM, says: “There’s still some ambiguity about the approval. If allowed, it will definitely be a win-win for all. The radio industry might get between 2 per cent and 4 per cent of the political parties’ advertising budget.” Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM 93.5, is more upbeat. “Radio can give very good reach at the local level. I expect 10 per cent of the total political advertising budgets to come to radio for that reason.”

Experts feel that the regional language channels may bag more political advertising to disseminate the message across non-Hindi belts. Tarun Katial, COO, Big 92.7 FM, feels that radio could generate “Rs 30 crore revenue from political advertising during this jumbo political season.” He claims a channel could air 10 to15 political spots a day. Yet others mention the possibility of airing four ads per hour. “The reach of radio across demographics gives it an edge over other media like print and TV. Barack Obama used radio very efficiently in the US elections, so can Indian politicians,” says Katial.

The radio industry has already lobbied with the ministry of Information and Broadcasting and got its go-ahead on political ads. It is now waiting for the EC verdict on political campaigns on radio banned four years ago.

Says Fever’s Burman: “In the past, the ministry raised concerns about political advertising on radio on the pretext that there was a lack of a monitoring mechanism. But if it’s allowed on TV what’s stopping it on radio.”

Ranjan Bargotra, president Crayons, says: “Radio cuts through barriers and has a 99 per cent reach. It will help us to plan segment-specific campaigns — youth, urban, rural, etc. When print is so expensive, radio could give us more value for less.”

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