| 31 May 2023
MY FM hopes to add Rs 8-10 crores in first year of operation of 14 new channels

MUMBAI: After a decade-long wait, the radio industry finally has lot to look forward to, despite the high level of desperation among radio players for the Phase III auctions. Although the delay may have slowed down the industry, it has not affected the plan of radio players, stated MY FM CEO Harrish M Bhatia. He also hopes that MY FM will break-even in three years’ time and become profitable in five years.

A lot of the confidence Bhatia carries comes from his parent company- DB Corp., and he strongly believes in the concept of strengthening the parent company's hold by expanding in cities where the media company rules in one form or another. Apart from that, MY FM is strongly driven by the need to become "retail king". Bhatia added, "Right from the start we were focused on becoming retail king. The company will strengthen its hold in all the markets that are growth markets and are strong on retail. But, our main focus was and will be to follow our parent company’s footprint, and we did it by bidding for specific cities." From the 135 channels up for auction during Phase III, MY FM won 14 channels. The network has entered Maharashtra in a big way with nine channels in cities namely Ahmednagar, Akola, Aurangabad, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nanded, Nashik, Sangli, and Sholapur.

The network has also expanded to cities like Karnal, Hisar, Rajkot, Bikaner and Muzzaffarpur. "We acquired stations that could add value to all associated with MY FM. There were some stations that we dropped because we thought the pricing for was not right," said Bhatia. The network deliberately dropped Patna from its bidding list as it felt it was priced incorrectly. There were two channels in the city, one which has now been acquired by Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (which runs Big FM) and the other by Music Broadcast Private Limited (which runs Radio City), with both priced at Rs 17.89 crore each. MY FM put its maximum investment into Aurangabad, which was priced at Rs 6.23 crore.

Soon after the government issues the appropriate licenses, Bhatia believes that it take no more than six months to start operating in these cities. "We are working towards making the channels operational but it is more or less in the hands of the government as they have to make some changes in the infrastructure. We are strong and ready to go, as a lot of our back end work is for our infrastructure is already underway. We expect to be operational in the next six months. In the first year of operation, we will add Rs 8-10 crore,” Bhatia added.

He also shared his view on the scarcity-concept for Phase III auctions. Bhatia stressed that the auctions are scarcity-driven for certain cities, “especially bigger cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and other metro cities; there was a dearth and people wanted more.” The highest bid came for New Delhi, which was acquired by HT Media (Fever FM) for Rs 169.16 crore.

Today, MY FM has a workforce of about 400, and the radio player hopes to appoint 150 more people. Commenting on the employment opportunity brought about by the FM Phase III auction, Bhatia said, “In 2007, there were none who understood the radio industry but the industry still flourished. Many from the broadcast background entered the radio industry, while many radio professionals moved organizations; there was lot of shift and that is how radio industry grew. Bhatia also touched up on the loss of radio professionals to other sectors due to delay of the auction. “But now that the auction has happened, there is a new sigh of relief as there will be many who will join the industry. There will be growth and I am sure, we will attract a lot of right talent which includes new and experienced people in the industry.”

Throwing light on the ad pie growth of the industry, Bhatia said the radio industry will hopefully grow to six or eight per cent in the next three to four years, from its current four per cent share.

Concluding on an optimistic note, Bhatia said in case there are auctions any time soon, the network will still bid.