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Sounds of Saudi

Sounds of Saudi

A more liberal and competitive radio market in KSA offers a wide range of opportunities for marketers.

April 18, 2010 3:15 by

“Because they were alone in the market, MBC didn’t have to compete and be the best,” says Khashman. “We believe what is currently being offered in the market is not really up to the expectations of listeners, as Saudi listeners deserve to have the choice to listen to more than one offering. MBC will now be obliged to work on their offering. “

Khashman adds that, with MBC currently monopolizing the market, the media giant isn’t making an effort to attract what he calls the “neighborhood advertiser.”

“Usually, radio advertisers are not only big companies; there are small businesses here and there that rely on radio stations, and this happens the world over,” he says. “MBC is not doing that; their spot prices are very high, and they are already sold to those who can afford them.”

Potential unlocked

Mindshare has started approaching clients already, and Fakhoury says that the awarding of the licenses to private radio operators will unlock the potential of the medium in Saudi Arabia.

“We are proactively waiting and seeing,” he explains. “We are doing our homework while we wait for the mediums to be ready. Radio deserves the same attention as digital does, so we are having conversations with our clients, and even doing some number crunching. The only thing that is limiting us is that we don’t know what the content will be, and how the stations will position themselves. Once we know the quality of the content, we’ll take it from there.”

Rotana has a great advantage over other license winners in terms of ad sales because they have an in-house media buying company, Rotana Media Services, which covers the region extensively. “We can now offer Rotana radio in Saudi Arabia with other radio stations as packages, or with television channels like our Fox channels, and we also have outdoor media,” says Khashman. “So it will be a comprehensive package for any regional advertiser.”

The Saudi radio market is undoubtedly about to change, and Abou Samra says that if newcomers come on board with a compelling offering, then existing stations (MBC FM and MBC Panorama) will lose audiences. At Rotana, Khashman says the company’s policy is to localize every station it operates, making Rotana Lebanon different from Rotana in Jordan or in Syria. “Saudi Arabia will be the fourth market that we operate in, and it will have a local touch along with the support of our head office in Beirut. We believe Rotana radio will be the number one radio station in the kingdom, as we are expecting to attract a big share of the market.”

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