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Radio City goes on air in Mumbai

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, May 22

ALMOST a year since launching the country's first private FM radio station in Bangalore, Radio City 91 FM has made its debut in Mumbai.

The service follows earlier launches of FM stations in the city by Millennium Broadcast, Entertainment Network India and Mid-Day Multimedia. Still awaited is Living Media's FM station.

At a press briefing here, Mr Sumantra Dutta, Chief Operating Officer (Radio Division), Star India Private Ltd, attributed the late entry to the delay in getting clearance from aviation authorities as Radio City's broadcast tower is positioned atop the highest building in the city, also the highest building in the country.

Radio City is a venture promoted by Music Broadcast Private Ltd (MBPL), which holds FM radio licences to four cities (Bangalore, Mumbai, Lucknow & Delhi) and media major, Star. The FM network's ad sales, marketing and programming is being done by Star India's Radio division.

MBPL belongs to the Pramod Mittal group. It was projected to invest approximately Rs 75 crore on its four FM stations, Mr Ashok Khinvasara, Director, MBPL, said.

The licence fee in Mumbai at roughly Rs 10 crore is higher than the Rs 6 crore fixed for Bangalore. The fee is slated to increase by 15 per cent every year.

Radio City's Delhi station is expected to go on air in a couple of months.

According to Mr Dutta, Radio City in Bangalore already has a 6 per cent share of total ad spend. Typically in developed markets, FM stations account for 8-10 per cent share.

"Up to 240 brands are on air at Radio City, Bangalore," he said. The size of FM's audience in that city is also estimated to have increased by 60 per cent over what it used to be in the years before private FM stations.

Radio City intends to cater to a very local audience. The venture claims to have introduced the concept of `format radio' - whereby the station's programming sampled at any time will be identifiable with its brand.

"The potential for radio in India shows perhaps greater under-utilised potential than anywhere else in the world," Mr John N. Catlett, Chief Executive Officer (Radio), Star India Private Ltd, said. Television and newspapers get a bigger share of the advertising pie despite people spending more time with the radio, almost three to three-and-a-half hours every day in developed markets, he pointed out.

In contrast, All India Radio used to average 30 minutes per day of the audiences' attention.

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