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UAE to have two more Malayalam FM radio stations soon
April 5, 2014, 12:48 pm

Two leading South Indian FM radio networks are planning to start broadcasting from new radio stations in the UAE targeting the Keralite community in the near future, which will take the total number of Malayalam FM stations in the country to six.

The Malayala Manorama Group and the Mathrubhumi Group, publishers of the two largest circulated Malayalam newspapers, are entering the FM radio field in the UAE. It will be the first overseas broadcasting venture for both the publishing groups.

Radio Mango 91.9 FM of the Malayala Manorama Group, was started in 2007, and Radio Club FM 94.3 of the Mathrubhoomi Group are the latest to enter the Malayalam FM radio scene in the UAE.

Both the FM stations in Kerala are currently focused on fun and entertainment, as news broadcasting has not yet been allowed for FM stations in India.

Radio Mango is in the final phase of setting up its studio in Deira, recruiting staff and other preoperational work, using the Manorama network in the Gulf.  It is heard that Radio Mango may go on air from Dubai during Ramadan.

The 125 year-old newspaper publishing group is a late entrant into the audio-visual field.

India has been witnessing an FM radio revolution, with the federal government in New Delhi giving more than 200 FM licences in 80 cities across the country.

Kerala has also seen an FM radio boom, with leading media groups grabbing the new opportunity. FM stations are growing in popularity because of the increase in the number of mobile phones and cars.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Ravi Menon, who is poised to head the youngest Malayalam FM station from the UAE, said: “We will be starting our operations in UAE very soon, though it is not yet time to officially announce the details. We are recruiting the radio jockeys and other staff for the UAE project. We currently operate four radio stations in Kerala from Kochi, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Kannur. Dubai will be our first overseas project.”

He said over telephone from Kerala that the fifth Radio Mango FM station will probably be starting in the UAE with a Fujeirah frequency, but he is not sure whether it will be on the same frequency as in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the Mathrubhoomi group, which launched the Dubai edition of its printed newspaper and the Mathrubhoomi TV channel last year, plans to go ahead with a Club FM radio project in UAE. It is learnt that the group has been discussing the FM radio project with partners in the UAE, but no time has been set for the UAE launch. Mathrubhoomi was earlier contemplating a plan to acquire an ailing FM station in Dubai but that did not materialise as the group wanted to have its own Club FM radio brand in the UAE.

It is also learnt that while all other FM stations are focused on Dubai and Northern Emirates, Club Radio FM is likely to start from Abu Dhabi, where there is no Malayalam FM station as yet.

Girish Nair, CEO of Radio Me 100.3 FM, which roped in top Malayalam film actor Mohanlal recently as its brand ambasssador, said: “Entry of new FM radio stations like Radio Mango FM and Radio Club FM is welcome, because competition will bring out the best for listeners. But many radio stations targeting the same expatriate community will definitely intensify business completion.”

“When a new radio station or TV channel comes up, listeners and viewers are curious to know whether they are offering something new. RJs working in other stations may also look for new job openings. However, the past experience is that business groups which enter radio broadcasting as just another business have not succeeded in this market. Super FM 94.7, part of the 22 year-old Radio Asia group, is only three years old but has established its presence in the market,” said Jaya Lekshmi, Programme Director, Super FM.

She said there is always poaching of RJs by the new stations but the Indian publishing groups may not match the existing salary structure here. “Bringing experienced RJs from India may not be useful as many of them may not know the difference between Dubai and Bur Dubai while giving a traffic update for Dubai listeners,” she said.

Pravasi Bharathi Broadcasting Corporation recently announced plans to start an AM radio station from Abu Dhabi. The group is also planning its first overseas FM station in Dubai. At present, the corporation has fourFM radio stations in Kerala’s four districts, namely, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kannur.

At present, there are four Malayalam FM stations in UAE, namely, Hit 96.7 (Arabian Radio Network), Gold FM 101.3 (Channel 4 network of Ajman), Super FM 94.7 (Radio Asia group) and Radio Me 100.3 FM. Besides these, there are three AM radio stations, namely, Radio Asia, Asianet and Voice of Kerala.

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