//Kerala State in for big boom in FM radio

Kerala State in for big boom in FM radio

N.J. Nair, The Hindu, 27 Nov 2006

17 private radio stations will soon go on air in State

# Spurt in FM channels will help nurture local talent
# These channels can play a major role in improving health and sanitation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : After channel war, it is time for an FM radio boom in Kerala. As many as 17 private radio stations will soon go on air with varied entertainment programmes from Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Kannur and Kozhikode districts.

Major newspaper groups and television channels have thrown their hats into the ring and that adds verve to the competition.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has permitted the entry of private players in the broadcasting business hoping that they would complement the efforts of All India Radio (AIR). They are expected to feature programmes with local content and relevance.

According to K. Kunhikrishnan, former director of Doordarshan, the skies of Kerala are streak-marked by 20 television channels that cater to a population of 30 million.

About 60 per cent of the households have cable connections too. Still, FM radios that have a reach of up to a radius of 60 km hold immense potential.

The spurt in new FM channels would not only help to nurture local talent and offer exciting career opportunities to talented youngsters, it would also offer the listeners a chance to listen to programmes of their choice. Initially, the core content will be film music and interactive programmes, but the radio channels can do a world of good by not limiting their fare to entertainment alone.

The private stations that come under the All India Radio Programme and Advertising Code do not have the permission to air news and current affairs programmes. But they can play an effective role in improving health and sanitation and also in cultivating a civic and social sense, Mr. Kunhikrishnan, who had worked as a consultant for a private channel, said.

For instance, the FM radio channels in the U.S. and Thailand (Bangkok) guide motorists by providing useful tips on weather and traffic snarls. While producing in-house programmes, the channels in Mumbai and Bangalore are outsourcing western music programmes. But rules specify that a channel cannot outsource more than 50 per cent of its content.

The capital investment for setting up a studio would come up to Rs.2 crore and the operational expenses would approximate separately to as much annually. Each station would have the capacity to provide direct employment to 20 persons and indirect jobs to an equal number.

The listener base too is expected to widen considerably in the coming days. The Kannur FM radio has become a remarkable success, with its advertisement revenue already touching Rs.64 crore within a very short span of time.