| 05 Dec 2023
'Value growth on radio was flat in TN' - Prem Kumar

The radio scene in Tamil Nadu, much like the rest of India, remained rather flat for most of last year.

The first half of the year was badly affected because of the recessionary scenario with most of the advertisers maintaining a wait and watch policy. It got a little boost due to the political advertising in the months of April-May. However, the festive season brought some respite to the industry with the overall economic situation looking up and clients wanting to spend more money from October onwards.

Volume wise, there was a growth of 25 per cent, but the value growth has been almost flat with a growth of around four per cent indicating the price pressure players have had to face in a weak economic scenario.

The Top categories ie Telecom, Jewellery, Textiles and Food remained the same. The surprise was the Jewellery category, which retained its position as a top spending category inspite of the sky rocketing prices of gold.

Most of the growth has come from Telecom ( with more players entering the market) and the retail market which continued to spend during a difficult time, as, unlike big businesses and established brands; the retail clearly depends a lot on the daily cash flows.

Interestingly, the growth in Non A+ metro markets of Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore was significantly higher than that of Chennai, indicating that the so called recessionary phase was more of a metro phenomenon restricted to big ticket items like Durables, Finance and Insurance. It also indicates the popularity of radio in these markets vis-a-vis large metros. Also given the low base in these markets, the growth rates in these markets would continue to be good.

There wasn't much innovation by most of the players. That said, 2009 also saw the taking off of an 'All English' talk radio station - Chennailive104.8 FM, which demonstrates that radio should go much beyond the film music programming by providing interesting content. This would also go a long way in expanding the market and creating loyal listeners.

The overall radio pie of three to four per cent did not grow last year as most of the advertising was TV heavy, considering the reach and popularity of regional TV in the Tamil Nadu market.

The next year promises to be exciting for the industry with the government set to announce the much awaited Phase – 3 licensing policy. Apart from allowing access to NEWS by the radio stations which would lead to content diversification, it would also allow media owners to take up multiple licenses 

However, whether companies grab this opportunity to set up different genres/format stations remains to be seen, considering the fact that most of the players are bleeding. Unless the government addresses industry concerns on issues like extending the licence fees from 10 to 15 years, addressing the music royalty issues and relooking at the various government fees that radio stations pay, it would be extremely difficult for the industry to grow, experiment and provide refreshing content to listeners.


Chennai Live station head Prem Kumar