Jagran Prakashan recently completed acquiring Radio City, an effort which had been officially in the works since late 2014.
Campaign India caught up with Ashit Kukian, president and COO, Radio City, to discuss what the acquisition means for the radio brand. Admittedly, marketing and advertising initiatives supporting the acquisition are not the first things on the agenda. Integration at other immediate levels are.
Can you describe how the two organisations arrived at the acquisition?
It is clear indication of the fact that they (Jagran Prakashan) wanted a larger presence in media. Expansions for them has always been on the cards (MidDay, Nai Duniya). Radio City was a ready opportunity for them. This seemed to be in sync with their expansion plans as they already have a radio presence.
How would you describe the radio category and its growth in the last few years?
Radio for the last two, three years has fortunately been growing in double digits. From that perspective, radio is definitely getting into mainstream from an advertiser’s perspective. Last year on average, the industry has grown by 12 to 14 per cent with there being single digit growth for the ‘bigger’ mediums – of course radio's being a relatively small base.
The fact of the matter is that radio is now being readily accepted as a medium for most advertisers. Most key categories in the two large mediums that we talk about – print and television – have both adapted to (work with) radio, which is a great sign.
With the third phase (of radio auctions) coming in, radio will only grow further.
What does the acquisition mean for Radio City?
We always believe that it helps to be a part of an organisation which has a longer weave on the way the business is. It is a fact that with a PE Fund that at some point in time there is always an exit in mind. So there is always a short-term, long-term investment question that gets raised.
That said, as far as Radio City is concerned, it gives us a larger play. We a fairly dominant in the West, have a sizeable presence in the South, and our North presence was relatively weaker. With (Radio) Mantra coming into the fold, North for us becomes very strong. Now we’re strong in three large pockets, which puts us ahead of the pack in terms of our ability to service advertisers, which is where the advantage is.
Having said that, Jagran as a group has been proactive and innovative in their own approach. They’ve not just been a traditional print-only giant – they’re in OOH, digital, have demonstrated expansion through takeovers, all in addition to print. The group is dynamic in that sense. This gives us a larger opportunity and a larger canvas to operate on not just at individual employee levels but also from an advertiser’s perspective.
What changes does the deal bring to Radio City?
Today one of the challenges is working out how you give wings to things as a medium. With Jagran now, suppose we conduct an initiative where Jagran is already present, we will have a larger platform to communicate our efforts.
Also, newspapers these days are into lifestyle, entertainment content; this will help us facilitate and adapt content from local editions from the Jagran fold to radio wherever possible and required.
How will the identity be affected, if at all?
Apart from the fact that we want to communicate that we are now a part of Jagran, we’re not tinkering too much with the whole process. The third phase is in the offing and the challenge is that we may not get the same frequencies; we’ll process all that and have a plan around it.
Right now, communicating that we’re a part of Jagran would be primary. The focus is to see how soon the integration can be done.
Will we see a common entity being forged using Radio City and Radio Mantra?
We’re just about starting the integration process and we’ve realised that a lot of things we do and they do, fortunately, is panning together. Be it how both entities look at music policy, audiences etc. There is already a great amount of sync-ing. Having said that, inspite of being a national presence, we are as local as is required for the market. So if (Radio) Mantra operates in say Karnal or Gorakhpur or Hisar, they are as local as is needed because that is how the medium works. In that sense, the diversity that the medium demands already exists for both Radio City and Radio Mantra.
The change will not be much but will be fairly consistent and holistic in terms of a brand experience in the markets that we’re already present in and the markets that we will want to bring in into the fold in the future. When you bid for a new station, obviously you’re getting into a new market and you’ll have to treat that market as per its needs; the changes required to effect that would obviously be put into practice.
What are the primary goals being targeted?
When you’re a pure play company there are certain priorities that you build in. Now that we’re part of a larger fold, both in terms of investment ability of the organisation and opportunity to explore newer areas, there are a host of things that can be taken up.
What are the structural changes that the deal brings with it?
The radio business will be anchored by Radio City headed by Apurva (Purohit). The focus would be on getting people to get the right kind of role within the merged environment because we clearly see strengths from people within the system, whether it is programming or sales or marketing or technical. Now with the merger, the people who possess the talent to grow bigger will get larger roles.
The top management of Radio City has been around for almost eight or 10 years and it has always been a challenge for us to determine how do we give larger responsibilities. This deal has clearly opened up opportunities of responsibilities which is something that is being looked at very positively in the group. In many acquisitions that happen, usually there are a lot of uncertainties. But for us it is business as usual and as an organisation we are looking forward to the new phase. That is something we’re proud of.