THAILAND: Virgin radio aims for larger audience base

B200m budgeted to promote local profile

Bangkok Post
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

By Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit

Virgin BEC-Tero Radio Services (Thailand) Co, a 51-49 joint venture between BEC Tero Entertainment Plc and Britain's Virgin Radio, is aiming to raise its local radio profile next year with a promotional budget of 200 million baht.

The company currently operates four stations _ FM 89, 95.5, 105, and 105.5 _ in both Thai and English formats.

Promotions planned next year aim to attract new audiences, including fans of rival stations, especially those of GMM Media Plc. The subsidiary of GMM Grammy Plc now operates the top-rated five stations.

Chate Mungkhalodom, managing director of Virgin BEC-Tero Radio Services (Thailand), said although the company had been in operation for only one year, he was pleased with its performance.

Currently, the company has an audience base of 1.5 million listeners aged from 12 to 40 years. Next year, the figure is projected to grow by 5%.

Better-than-expected advertising sales of 270 million baht are projected for the year, from the previous target of 200 million baht. Next year, total ad sales are expected to reach at least 300 million baht and some of the stations will begin to turn a profit.

Thailand is one of the two Asian countries under the expansion plan of Virgin Radio, owned by tycoon Sir Richard Branson. The other country is China, where it has faced more restrictions on programming.

Virgin, which also operates Virgin Mobile phone service and Virgin Blue budget airline in Australia, started operations in Thailand in March this year. New businesses in Thailand are in the pipeline once the radio business becomes successful.

Mr Chate said that next year competition in the radio market would intensify. However the company was looking for new stations to strengthen its business.

According to Nielsen Media Research, ad spending on radio grew 8.66% to 6.02 billion baht in the first 11 months of this year.

Last year, spending in the radio industry was valued at about 6.17 billion baht, a 20.32% increase from a year earlier.