Radio industry on ventilator: Private FM radio channels prod Centre to act

The radio industry has reached out to the government seeking a support package to help it tide over the coronavirus crisis.

The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), an industry body of private FM channels, has written a letter to Union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar. In the letter, the AROI has sought a one-year waiver on all license fees and charges by the government and Prasar Bharti. It also wants restoration of government advertising on radio, clearance of government dues on advertising from DAVP, NFDC & BSNL and deferment of advance regulatory payments for the current fiscal year.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry responded to the request with a three-month extension of license fee payments without interest.

The AROI, however, said that the support is much less than what was requested. It also said that with the limited support from the government, the sector has been forced to undertake drastic cost reduction measures “as companies are unable to generate enough cash flows to meet the salary cost and fixed operations cost requirements”.

Many players have unwillingly reduced salaries and rationalised manpower resulting in job losses, the AROI said.

The industry body also said that the current turbulent scenario is bound to have an adverse impact on the music industry as well that employs more than 1 Lakh people. “Radio is one of their primary sources of income. The medium is also a major reach and marketing platform for the music industry,” said AROI.

The revenue for radio was down by over 80 percent in April and are estimated to be down by 90 percent this month. With no revenues from the commercial segments and no government sector advertising, the radio industry witnessed an estimated loss of over Rs 200 crore in the first two months of the current fiscal year. This is estimated to reach over Rs 600 crore by September.

—Hindustan Times

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