Revival & Survival: “Encouraging spending, sustainability of biz key to economic revival”

Prepared or not, India has now moved on to the ‘Unlock – 1’ phase as an exit strategy for the two-month long lockdown period. It is definitely a changed world that India is entering now, and we will have to learn to live with the Coronavirus in our midst.

A lot has been written, debated and discussed over how much the economy and business operations have been hit. We, at Adgully, aim to look at the revival story. What does it take to jumpstart an economy? That is the great narrative that we are following up as part of our ‘Revival and Survival’ series.

Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM and Magic FM, analyses the current scenario and talks about the measures that the Government, businesses, advertisers and media organisations need to take to bring the economy back on track.

What does the new normal look like? How much has the COVID-19 crisis disrupted business operations?

The new normal is scary, to say the least. Business operations, for the radio industry at least, have been disrupted totally and the cascading effect will remain for some time. While we are gradually starting up operations in line with the government guidelines, it is NOT business as usual. Revenues for the industry have been negligible and we are still not sure when advertising would pick up. Pipelines have dried and it will take time to bring them to normal levels.

What should be the blueprint for a post-COVID-19 economy?

Encourage spending, giving people trust and faith, sustainability of businesses and creating employable opportunities for working class will be key to the revival of the economy.

Those who have dried up their resources in 75 days, without falling on their commitments to vendors and employees, will require a one-time assistance in terms of cost waivers, etc., to overcome this zero period.

What are the 5 key measures needed to ensure a speedy business revival for the Media and Entertainment industry?

Radio is the only medium which doesn’t charge any carrier charges to the user and has no other means to earn revenue other than advertising. Our reach is unparalleled and the widest. Government helping hand will make a lot of difference. The overhead costs in the time of this pandemic will also increase towards maintenance and to run them as normal will be a challenge at least for another 6-12 months. AROI as an industry body has taken all the concerns of the radio players and have requested for the following:

Waiver of Government license fees, Prasar Bharati rentals, BECIL rentals and fees and WPC fees for a period of one year

Release of Government advertising on radio

Release of past dues from the government

Radio advertising to be given GST exemption for a year so that retailers can afford advertising, where radio is one of the lowest cost mass media option

Extending the license period by one year

How are you strategising for the remaining quarters of this Financial Year 2021?

While radio advertising will take some time to pick up, we are offering Digital + Radio solutions to clients. We are hoping that clients will see the merit in the same and start advertising again, albeit slowly. Radio is a very local medium and our retail customers as well as real estate, education, shops, restaurants, etc., are very hard it. We are coming up with special packages for them.

How do you see businesses and the Government working together to undo the lockdown disruption and address the market uncertainties?

Businesses are always available to the government at short notice call whenever the government needs any help. We came forward to propagate the important social messages during this lockdown, wherein our RJs became face of public messages. The medium also played a responsible role by providing useful information to listeners and kept them entertained during these stressful times. We will continue to do this and whatever more will be required, we will be always there.

How do you visualise the economy and your sector a year later? How much would it have recovered by then?

It is very tough to make guesses just now. Currently, business is down more than 90 per cent and we hope it will pick up slightly in the last 2 quarters of this financial year.


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