RBNL plans big push in FM radio

RBNL plans big push in FM radio

New Delhi: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) plans to tap the private FM radio segment, which is expected take a leap when the third phase of licensing for stations kicks off.

“The radio industry is poised for exponential growth with phase III and the opening up of around 700-odd new licences... We are already the largest player in the country with a 45 station penetration and would like to take radio deeper into the country," RBNL CEO Tarun Katial told PTI.

Asked how many new radio stations could the company add as and when the third phase of licensing is rolled out, he declined a specific answer.

“We would have to first read the fineprints of the licence. Then only we would be able to decide," he said.

After opening the FM radio to private players in 2000, the government has completed two phases of privatisation by 2006, but the third phase has since been delayed. It is, however, expected that the third phase could kick off by 2011.

On investment for the radio segment, he said part of the Rs400 crore fund that RBNL had recently raised would be utilised.

“Part of the Rs400 crore will be used to repay debt and bid of new radio stations (in phase III)...We will also use part of the funds to further strengthen our growing out-of- home media business in the country and for the TV channels," Katial said.

He, however, did not quantify the funds that will be diverted towards the radio business.

RBNL’s board of directors, in an extraordinary general meeting held on 1 September, 2010, approved raising of over Rs400 crore through preferential issue of equity shares to the promoter group and other investors.

The fund-raising exercise attracted a diverse group of investors, including Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Zuari Investments, Century Plyboards, Citigroup Global Market Mauritius and Goldman Sachs Investments (Mauritius).

RBNL, formerly known as Reliance Media World, has presence in various sectors like radio, experiential marketing and out-of-home and digital advertising.

The company has recently also announced its tie-up with US media giant CBS, to foray into the broadcasting sector.

“We will also use part of the funds for TV channels that are scheduled to launch beginning October 2010 through our 50:50 joint venture with CBS Studios International, under the brand name BIG CBS," Katial said.

The company plans to launch BIG CBS Prime (English general entertainment channel), BIG CBS Spark (youth entertainment channel) and BIG CBS Love (English women entertainment channel).

“In a country with growing interest and consumption of English content, the time is ripe to create value from the English genre entertainment section...We have all the necessary approvals in place from the Information and Broadcasting ministry," he added.