Clearly, there is room for more radio stations on the UAE’s air waves. Two more players have entered in what is already an overcrowded space and all of them hoping to offer something that will have listeners tuning in. And then keep doing the same.
“But the radio broadcast industry is one where there’s overcrowding all over the world — it’s not a phenomenon confined to a few markets,” said Ajit Menon, Chief Operating Officer at Flowers International, which has just launched Flowers FM94.7, an Indian language station. “But Dubai/UAE is a marketplace where radio will continue to hold sway because of the captive audience it offers.
“The trick for station operators is to come up with something new.”
In the last three years, new Indian language stations — Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil — and their older counterparts have been vying hard for advertising dirhams. With more residents in the UAE spending longer hours commuting, they offered an instantly accessible medium for brands and advertisers to connect.
Until last year, that was a message advertisers were willing to hear loud and clear. But last year saw a decline in ad spend targeting at radio stations and the trend has continued this year.
According to Menon, “The slowing adverting scene has impacted on all sectors and not just radio, The situation right now is that the declines in spending have not been dramatic.
“The best part about operating a radio station is that costs are largely controllable, unlike TV where new content has to be constantly created.”
Flowers 94.7, which is aiming for break even in 18 months of operations, acquired the studio operated by Dolphin Recording, which was earlier managing the frequency, on long-term lease.
The station is part of Flowers International, an Indian media group in India which has interests in TV as well. “Where we want to standout vis-a-vis the competition is by creating cross-selling and cross-programming opportunities to our audiences here,” said Menon. “Sure, our competition (Manorama and Mathrubhumi with their own radio stations here) have similar opportunities to do the same, but we will be the first to do so aggressively.