“It’s so hot. Can you get someone to switch on the AC before we get home?”

“Oh, I can get the AC to turn on itself.” Thanks to Lloyd Wi-Fi Inverter AC; control the AC with your smartphone.

Now, pay your bills with PhonePe, India’s payments app… Manipal Hospitals: Life’s on… 20% off on PharmEasy medicines… Big Bazaar, Pizza Hut, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.

It’s 8:00 PM on a Thursday in Delhi and eight minutes have passed. Sitting in a taxi that’s stuck in Delhi traffic, I wait for the FM station the cabbie has chosen to play some music. Any music. And just then, the first notes of a popular Bollywood song fill the confines of the vehicle, but not before the man on the radio tells me that I can earn thousands of rupees with the new video streaming application Swoo. How I wish!

In the space of just eight minutes, there were 18 ads. Yes, I counted. The obvious choice is to switch to another FM channel, but that won’t help. Every FM station is equally plagued by excessive advertisements.

If you go by data from radio monitoring agency AirCheck, FM radio stations play as much as 20 minutes of advertising per hour during their evening slots. That number can vary considerably depending on the time of day as well as week. If advertisements are aired for less than 15 minutes in an hour, it isn’t for lack of trying; but because FM channels don’t have more ads to run during that hour.

In comparison, on an average, the majority of TV channels keep advertisements to under 12 minutes an hour, while a few push it to 15 minutes.

That’s how FM radio works. If a company goes for even a slight cut in advertisements, the revenue drops, like it did in the case of FM brand Radio Mirchi. The radio station, owned by Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL), claims to have cut the number of ads for the year ended March 2018 by 15%, leading to a dip of more than 50% in net profit.

Business is tough, and the Rs 2,800 crore ($415 million) industry may be stuck in a rut. It has been more than 20 years of private FM radio broadcasting in India and radio is pretty much the same as it was then—Bollywood music (except for a couple of stations playing international music), radio jockeys, love gurus and late night romantic music, and, of course, ads. 

320

Number of private FM radio channels in India, as of October 2017

The investment that goes into setting up an FM station is high and advertising revenue difficult to earn.

AUTHOR

Harveen Ahluwalia

In her last assignment, Harveen was at Mint, the business daily published by HT Media. At Mint, where she spent about two years, she wrote stories on retail, food and the media business. Harveen is a B.Com (H) graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi. She has a diploma in journalism from the Times School of Journalism. Like many folks at The Ken, Harveen talks and tweets a lot. When she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to sketch and doodle. She can be reached at harveen at the-ken dot com.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.