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FM fame revives radio-making

October 15, 2004 13:06 IST

After all, a transistor set might not be just a collector's item. The radio transistor industry is getting a fresh lease of life as radio sets continue to be sold in an era where DVD players and home theatres rule the roost.

With the emergence of frequency modulation (FM) band transmission in the country, the radio transistor industry seems to be a vibrant and profitable business proposition.

FM band operators already have been granted license for 42 cities and towns in the country to run FM band stations. Such radio stations have been witnessing increasing popularity among people from all sections.

Meanwhile, the ministry of information and broadcasting is expected to give licences for at least eight new places in the next one year. This has led to transistor manufacturers, seeing higher sales and revenues, concentrating on revamping their marketing network.

The better known manufacturers include region specific players such as Santosh Radio Products, Keltron to multinational audio manufacturers such as Philips, Sony, and Delhi-based Takai Radio besides others.

With the steadily rising popularity of FM bands among people from all quarters, specially the young generation, radio manufacturers are now working to come up with trendy but low priced models to suit all the pockets.

Philips has recently cut prices of its select models targeting radio listeners in the 'B' and 'C' category centres and it will be launching a new range of radios in November.

Santosh Radio is planning to introduce models for college-goers. Keltron plans for a price-cut to woo people from lower middle-class segment and Takai plans expansion of its marketing network even in other parts of the country.

These manufacturers are expecting at least a 10 per cent growth in sales in the next one year and 20-35 per cent in the next two years with the possibility of more cities and towns coming under FM transmission coverage.

"Since the launch of FM transmission in the country, at Philips, we are witnessing a significant increase in radio sales. In the last one year, we sold around 10 lakh radio sets in the country and we expect this to be rise by around 10 per cent in by the next one year.

Philips, while investing in radio manufacturing significantly, has also been working on strengthening its marketing network to reach out to even smaller places," Gautam Dalal, brand manager, Philips India, said on Tuesday.

Philips has recently revised prices of its two popular models, DL 166 and DL 167 from Rs 465 and Rs 560 to Rs 395 and Rs 495, respectively.

The company, which outsources its radio sets from various manufacturers in India, has at present eight models on offer with FM compatibility. It is planning to strengthen its product basket by launching a new range of stylish, trendy FM radios next month.

Santosh Kejriwal, director of Santosh Radio, based in Kolkata, said, "Before FM transmission started in Kolkata and other major cities, we were selling around five lakh radio sets every year, which went upto over 7,50,000 last year and we are aiming at crossing the 10 lakh-mark by the year end. At present, we have 50 models in the price range of Rs 180 to Rs 250. But we may go for a price-cut in the light of rising competition."

A source close to Keltron, based in Orissa, also sounded excited with increasing popularity of FM among people while an official of Sony, requesting anonymity, said, "We have clock radios in the range of Rs 2,490 and Rs 4,990, but now we may come up with radio sets priced lower than the existing ones."

According to Dalal, because of FM bands, now radio sets also have started entering into the kitchens of Indian households and the trend now has helped the radio industry to think differently, which was 'almost dying,' till even two-three years back.

Joydeep Ray in Ahmedabad