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Guest Talk

Mr. Abraham Thomas, CEO, BIG FM

MediaInfoline April 21, 2020
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Brief Profile:

Abraham Thomas has over two decades of experience in building and scaling youth media platforms (across TV, Radio, Digital, Print) in India, China and South Asia. During his long-standing career, he has held various leadership positions across brands in the media and broadcast space.

Currently, holding the post of Chief Executive Officer with Reliance Broadcast Network, Abraham Thomas began his tryst with media with his stint at Indian Express where he held several positions from Brand Manager to heading Distribution to brand and Ad Sales. He later moved on to hold leadership roles at leading brands such as Sony Pictures Network, MTV, RED FM  and a global media major Astor Group.


Q) What are the precautions BIG FM has taken to ensure the safety of its employees post COVID-19?

We believe that people are our biggest asset and eventually it is them who will resurrect the business when this is over. It is the safety of our employees and our communities that is of paramount importance. We were the first radio network to bring in a mandatory work from home policy and completely adopt a remote-working model across each of our 58 stations across the country. Our RJs are doing their shows from their homes using their sound equipment systems connected via VPN. Our business teams are also interacting with multiple clients on a daily basis via video conferencing, messaging, email or phone call. Additionally, we continue to abide by the guidelines and directives issued by the government and are undertaking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of all our employees. In times like this, we are constantly in touch with our dedicated workforce on a daily basis in a structured manner to keep a check on their physical and mental well-being.

Q) Please throw some light on AZ Research PPL report.

Radio is a medium that has time and again proven its worth when it comes to being credible and trustworthy. The findings from the recently released AZ Research PPL report are a testament of the same. According to the study done by AROI across 6 metros, 82% of the population tuned into radio during COVID-19, at home listenership increased by 22% from 64% to 86%and the time spent listening has gone up by 28%. FM channels emerged as the second most credible source of information for the masses with acredibility score of 6.27, second only to the internet which is at 6.44 and TV at 5.74.

Q) The COVID-19 lockdown effect on the economy.

The impact of this global pandemic has seen industries and livelihoods of millions being severely impacted. The recovery is expected to be staggered with the more essential industries being the first to recover followed by the more non-essential goods and durables. The luxury and hospitality industry seems affected the most.The radio industry has been badly hit and it directly/indirectly impacts over 20000 people. The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) has been seeking relief from the government through restoration of Government spending, payment of overdue outstandings, waiver of licence fees and other charges by the government and PrasarBharti.We really need to be together in this crucial time. It is imperative to help businesses run and keep the economy going so that societies can continue to function.

Q) How does it effect on radio industry in terms of revenue?

The radio business was already reeling under the effects of the cut in ad spends by advertisers including government with most players expected to de-grow by -20% this fiscal. The crisis has put additional pressure on the whole industry to invest behind uninterrupted business continuity services. It’s a challenging situation but we need to adapt to the changing times and be agile and flexible in our approach as the survival will depend upon how well we mold ourselves to ensure that businesses run seamlessly.

Q) Has the listenership profile of BIG FM changed during this lockdown period?

With listeners now having more time at their disposal, we have certainly witnessed a surge in the listenership. Listeners are tuning our station to be entertained as well as reaching out to us to seek information and guidance from our RJs and experts on board with us with regards to the on-going pandemic. The response and engagement to our content and contests have seen a surge since the lockdown.

Radio has always had high in-home listening compared to out-of-home listening.As per the IRS Q3, 2019 data, out of total radio listenership in the last one month, 65% listeners tuned to their favourite shows from home while 26% listen to Radio while travelling. 52% listen to radio on their mobile phone, 31% listen on their radio sets while 16% listen on their car radio. So radio as a medium has really surged and they are being rewarded by the exemplary work that our RJs are doing in engaging, informing and keeping them calm while also keeping them entertained.

Q) What makes BIG FM different from other Radio Stations?

This is the time for us to be together as a nation, as the M&E industry and focus on overcoming the current crises. This is not the time to blow our own trumpets. Dhun BadalkeTohDekho!

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