Exclusive: Lyca Media talks about radio debut

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor

Lyca Mobile buys Sunrise Radio
Lyca Mobile buys Sunrise Radio

New players in the UK Asian radio market Lyca Media have given their first interview to BizAsia since acquiring a number of stations in London, including Sunrise Radio (1458AM).

Lycamobile Group, the global market leader in the prepaid international calling card market, has announced it has acquired the licences to operate four radio stations covering Greater London and the outer boroughs. Talking about the acquisition, Chris Liveing, Group Marketing Director of Lycamobile confirmed to BizAsia that the company had bought four radio licenses out of administration. Following an administration process conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the four stations which were transmitting as Sunrise One 1458, Sunrise Three 1035, Time 107.5 and Time 106.6 ��� are now controlled by the Lycamobile Group�۪s media arm, Lyca Media II, to bolster its portfolio of media businesses across the UK and India. Lyca Media II Limited will be operating the Ofcom licences with immediate effect subject to Ofcom approval.

Lyca Media has given the former Sunrise Radio Limited team an opportunity to be part of the new project and has been hiring from station alumni in the first instance. ���We know how important these stations are in the lives of their listeners�۝ said Chris Liveing, Group Marketing Director of Lycamobile, ���our biggest concern was to ensure that the essence of the shows lives on as we move into the new era. We will strive for continuity as much as possible.�۝ ���Our plan is to open new studios near Southall to make the commute easier for presenters living in West London. A suite of studios near East London is also in the works as we look to paint a broader picture of London�۪s Asian communities.�۝

The team consists of Tony Patti who is Director of Operations and two Sunrise radio stalwarts, Sarita Sabharawal and Ravi Sharma, have joined the new team as Head of Programming and Head of Production respectively. ���We have as much as possible reinstated the previous management for the stations and there are no plans to change the core operations.�۝ In addition the team will be bolstered by new personnel to ensure it is delivering against the objectives of the business.

In terms of the future, the company said it was interested in making business deals with other radio stations in the country to form a bundle similar to television packages. Talks with some local stations in the north of England are already rumoured to be taking place. ���There is no doubt we will continue to grow our radio portfolio.

Asked if they had any plans for any of the acquired frequencies excluding Sunrise Radio Limited, Lycamedia confirmed that they had ambitious plans for all the stations. ���We are extremely interested in setting up a station for young Asians but our primary aim is to run all the stations in the best possible way as per the formats agreed by Ofcom.�۝

Having made a global name for itself in international mobile calls, the Lycamobile Group has faced questions over the motivation for the acquisition. ���Our business has always been about connecting communities�۝ says Chris Liveing, Group Marketing Director of Lycamobile. ���While we are probably best known as a mobile provider, our media businesses across the UK and India are thriving and growing fast.�۝

Commenting on the acquisition, Subaskaran Allirajah, Chairman of the Lycamobile Group said, ���This acquisition represents a further extension of the Group�۪s strategy to develop its media interests. As a business which has served the Asian community in Britain for many years, we understand the integral part these stations play in the lives of our audience. We are running the stations today and plan to maintain the current programming approach proven so popular with many of its loyal listeners. While our absolute aim is to preserve the essence and character of these beloved stations, we will look to refresh the format in the future to honour the changing media landscape and reach further into local communities.

Indeed, in the current year, Lyca Media is producing a new film starring South Indian star Vijay and acquired an IPTV platform called Aarti TV. ���This is not a time where different channels and mediums can exist in isolation of each other.�۝ adds Chris Liveing, Group Marketing Director of Lycamobile. ���Along with many other media and telecommunications companies, we know that consumers expect content through a variety connected devices. This is our focus for the future, we are working hard on joining up all the dots.�۝