Asia Radio Today, a publication in India, spoke to RCS India’s General Manager Shankar Balakrishnan and here now is the interview:
The world’s largest broadcast software company, RCS has been in India for over 13 years, where its radio automation and scheduling software is used by several broadcasters.
As the Indian radio industry looks forward to the next phase of licensing of FM stations, Asia Radio Today spoke to RCS India’s General Manager Shankar Balakrishnan.
1. What are radio stations telling you about their needs in advance of Phase III? Is it networking? Or lower cost products for smaller cities/towns? Or a way to integrate the different products?
Radio Groups in India have been waiting for Phase III for a fairly long duration since the last roll-out of stations between 2006 and 2008. This time period has allowed the groups to study the various markets available in India and therefore helped the stations in formulating a plan for each of these market categories.
Just like you asked, the combination that works perfectly for India is networking and cost effective products. Networking allows stations to not only save on personnel and operational costs, but also offers a great amount of control over the overall business for a big group. For groups concentrating on smaller markets, it will be extremely essential for them to find cost effective products.
To summarize the point, the ideal set-up for a group of stations irrespective of the number of stations they operate is a software suite that is turn-key and a seamlessly integrated solution comprising the three key aspects; scheduling, traffic and play-out.
2. RCS now has a range of playout products. How do they work and complement each other?
RCS has been in India for more than a decade and our main product suite has been Master Control, Selector, Linker and Airwaves. These products have been industry standard right from the first day of private FM radio In India. We also have a large number of stations using NexGen Digital. And in the recent past, we have started rolling out of latest suite of products which is GSelector, Zetta and Aquira.
The biggest advantage of our latest line of products is that all of them are networking ready; all of them are multi-station enterprise databases and all of them are well integrated with each other. A lot of input from our clients in India has also gone into the development of these products. We ensured that we are ready for Phase III before the roll-out begins.
3. By offering a range of products to suit all budgets, does this shrink the opportunities for Master Control? What sort of station/radio network is this product’s main market?
Master Control continues to be the face of most on-air studios in India. Although we have successfully used networking in Master Control, we also see that enterprise set-ups are the way forward. Zetta has been specifically designed to replicate the user friendly nature of Master Control, while giving us that edge with the multi-station enterprise set-ups. Over the next few years, we see Zetta as the standard product across this market with is varied set of features and flexibility.
4. Radio networks will be able to broadcast news for the first time under Phase III, although it looks like they will only be allowed to rebroadcast AIR* news. Are stations building their own dedicated newsrooms and in what way is that an opportunity for RCS news?
At the moment there is no real preparation by stations for news broadcast as there is no clarity about the freedom of content the stations can enjoy. Having said that we are well prepared with RCS news, a product tried, tested and enjoyed in various markets across the world.
5. And what are your newest toys, mobile apps, gadgets etc.?
We have a range of apps that have been designed to make our products accessible on the go over mobiles, tablets and laptops. See more here.
* All India Radio News is a service of the government of India.