Asian Radio Overview: India and Taiwan

Timothy Berge, General Manager of ICRT, K.Padmakumar, Radio Programming Consultant of Manipal Institute of Communication

International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) is an English community music radio station in Taiwan. In Taiwan, there is a broad spectrum of radio stations, ranging from government public broadcasters to commercial radio. 

Radio listenership in Taiwan peaks during the morning and evening drive hour as the locals listen mainly in their cars, when commuting or in the office. 

The advertising business in Taiwan is dominated by agents, as they buy blocks of time on the radio and sell it to advertisers. As a result, agents will be pushing their purchased time blocks to radio stations and a client is obliged to go through a specific agent to get their ads on the radio.

ICRT acts as a bridge between the local Taiwan community to the International Taiwanese community. As the government is pushing ‘Bilingual Taiwan’ (Bilingual referring to Chinese and English), ICRT acts as a medium to expose Taiwanese listeners to English and incorporate it into their everyday lives. Despite being the only English broadcaster in Taiwan, they are ranked No.5 with a market share of 10%, proving that English radio is still relevant in Taiwan. Aside from their website and app where users can stream ICRT live, they are expanding to Twitch, a streaming platform popular among the younger generation, where DJs and listeners communicate in an interactive way compared to other platforms. ICRT has evolved from 24-hour music to having their announcers have short conversations in English. As long as meaningful conversations are held, the audience will accept that they like their music and improve their English.

Whereas the commercial FM radio scenes in India can be divided into premium and mass radio stations. There are a number of challenges in Indian radio, such as content differentiation, lack of audience analysis, activation requirements and so on. 

These problems can be traced back to the lack of media professionals in radio. Rather, sales heads are becoming programming heads in stations, and non-media professionals are going into the media field.

Besides, the market for radio is different in all parts of India. As India is a nation with many different cultures across it. Many stations fail to take the country’s diversity into account, and resort to programmers using the same format for all stations across India. Although in practice, stations should carry out in-depth research and audience analysis to cater to their listeners across the country.

Today, social media has entered the radio scene. One of the problems discussed by Padmakumar was forcing social media into radio. Radio, as one of the oldest forms of media. As competition arises, radio has somewhat been obliged to enter the social media market to compete with their competition. However, radio at its truest form should use only audio to convey emotion. When radio is pressurized to go on social media, it is pushed towards visual media, which we’ve already seen in television.

These challenges are only only prominent in India, but in radio as a whole.

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