Television

Second phase of FM radio soon

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NEW DELHI: The much-awaited second phase of radio FM expansion is likely to be kicked off soon with the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry set to outline the roadmap on Monday, a day when the high-powered committee on FM radio is slated to submit its recommendations to the government.



According to government sources here, I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is slated to make some announcements regarding the second phase of FM radio on Monday (17 November).



Incidentally, from 17 December a four-day regional conference on digital radio too begins in Delhi under the aegis of Asia-pacific broadcasting Union and All India Radio (AIR).



Meanwhile, the FM radio panel, set up under the chairmanship of Ficci secretary-general Amit Mitra, was scheduled to submit its report on 31 October. It is likely to make some radical recommendations on FM radio broadcast policy, including throwing open the sector to foreign investment.

However, Mitra could not be contacted today as he is reportedly away to Russia.



Still, sources in the FM radio task force indicated that some of the recommendations would touch on areas that had been troubling the industry. Issues like migration of the existing private FM players to a revenue sharing model from a license fee regime are likely to addressed. The revenue share is likely to be in the range between 3-4 per cent.



The task force may also recommend that foreign investment , at par with norms in the print and the electronic media (up to 26 per cent), be allowed in the FM radio sector too. At present, only foreign financial institutions 



are allowed to make portfolio investments in FM ventures as per the Reserve of Bank of India norms.



The task force is also likely to make a pitch for allowing news and current affairs programming on private FM channels up and running in several cities of India, including Mumbai, Lucknow and Delhi.



at present, private FM players are only allowed to broadcast weather and stock reports, while only AIR has the sole prerogative of dishing out news and current affairs programming on its FM radio channels.



Other issues to be touched upon by the Mitra panel, and likely to be implemented during the second phase of FM radio, include matters like doing away with the clause on co-location of all FM radio transmitters in the city if there is more than one operator and a suggestion to remove a ban on content sharing by more than one private radio station, if operated by the same company.



However, recommendations alone are not likely to solve the woes of the financially beleaguered private FM sector as the government has to accept the recommendations and work towards implementing them. If some major changes 

are to be made in the present policy, like foreign investments, then the issue has to be ratified by the Union cabinet too.

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