Radio City targets Mumbai FM service by April-end?

For all Indian radio FM wannabes, Mumbai is the jewel in the crown. And Radio City, the Star India-backed station, is hoping to see services being launched by April-end, industry sources indicate.

A major hold-up so far has been where to locate the FM towers. Music Broadcast Private Limited (MBPL), the company promoting Radio City, is looking for a suitable location in the centre of the city and while one or two places have been shortlisted, a final decision is still to be made, sources say.

Sumantra Dutta, Star India's head of FM operations, however, says that an official communication from the government is still awaited. According to Dutta, the government is still to issue an interim power clearance order and only after that could there be any talk of launching services.

Be that as it may, all the backend for starting operations is almost in place. Sources confirm that 10,000 square feet space in the IL&FS building at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai has been taken up which will house Radio City. While reports say Radio City will move into the new office by early February, this could not be independently confirmed.

Dutta, meanwhile, confirmed that MBPL was re-evaluating the viability of starting FM operations in Patna and Nagpur, two of the six cities (Bangalore, Lucknow, Mumbai and Delhi being the others) for which it had secured licenses. Dutta said the depressed economic scenario that currently exists meant the yearly licence fees of Rs 47.5 million for Patna and Rs 74 million for Nagpur were too steep for any worthwhile returns on investment.

If MBPL does drop its FM plans for Patna and Nagpur, it stands to forfeit the bank guarantees it gave for securing the licenses. This is equivalent to one year's licence fees for each city.

Star India supplies content and provides sales and marketing support to MBPLs investments in radio while the venture has been promoted by the PK Mittal Group.

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