FM radio: Govt. may opt for partial sops

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is likely to agree to partial sops for private players in the FM radio sector, though he is yet to make up his mind fully on a suggestion by the regulator that the annual licence fee may be deferred till a final view on amendments suggested in the existing policy is taken.

According to government sources, the file was sent to Prasad last week only when he was touring Bihar as part of election duty after I&B ministry secretary Pawan Chopra, as reported by earlier, made a noting on the file concerned.

Chopra had stated that acceding to the sector regulators suggestion would not be feasible at this point of time because of the impending general elections as also the fact that it would mean getting a clearance from the Union Cabinet too.

The sources also indicated that the government can over-rule the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (the sheriff for the broadcast and cable sector) and even the I&B ministry secretarys views. "What needs to be seen is how much political importance does Prasad give to the two viewpoints," an I&B ministry source indicated.

Trai, in an interim measure, had suggested that since its looking into the issue of FM radio broadcasting and the amendments suggested in the guidelines, the government may direct private FM radio players to defer payment of annual licence fee that becomes payable this month-end.

However, government sources also said that some private FM players, especially powerful media companies, have made a representation to the I&B ministry and others in the government, including the Prime Minister, that their licence fee payment may be deferred as Trai is deliberating on the amendments suggested by an expert committee, headed by Dr Amit Mitra.

Soon after such a representation, Trai also came out with a
consultation paper on FM radio seeking opinion from various stakeholders of the industry.

What are the options that Prasad or the government has? Come to think of it, there is more than one of them.

Option 1: Prasad too agrees with I&B ministry secretary Pawan Chopra's line of argument and strikes down the regulator's proposal on deferring the licence fee payment.

Likely Outcome: The private FM radio players would have to shell out a hefty license fee as some of them have licences in more than one city. Especially at a time when most media companies have been investing in their infrastructure with an eye to sharpen their election coverage too.

(The annual license fees, when most of the private FM radio stations started few years back, varied from metro to metro with an in-built clause for a 15 per cent increase every year. The highest fee was Mumbai at Rs 115 million followed by Delhi at 750 million, Lucknow at Rs 70 million and Chennai
at Rs 35 million. Kolkata was the lowest at Rs 10 million.)

Option 2: Prasad uses his discretion and throws up a suggestion that since the new government is likely to be in place by May, the FM radio companies should pay an amount calculated roughly for a month's time.

Likely Outcome: Better than having to pay millions of rupees and then seek refunds from the government - always a difficult proposition - and adjustments. Seems like a good compromise formula.

Option 3: Prasad just forgets about the whole issue citing a busy election schedule.

Likely Outcome: This would be an ideal situation for the licencees, but not so for the government. It could become the butt of criticisms from the Opposition parties, especially the Congress that is now attempting to pull out as many controversial decisions relating to the government as possible.

Latest Reads
No changes in Marathi, Telugu segments in BARC data week 2

In the Bengali market, Jalsha Movies and Aakash Aath interchanged their fourth and fifth positions in BARC data week 2. Bhojpuri Cinema and Big Ganga swapped their first and second position in the Bhojpuri space. Zee Kannada and Colors Kannada swapped their first and second positions in the Kannada...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Dettol topples Trivago from top spot in BARC week 2 of 2019

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has released its data for top advertisers and brands for week 2 of 2019.

Television TV Channels Viewership
Four news genres saw no change in BARC week 2

All the four genres apart from Hindi news urban market saw no change in second week of the year. Aaj Tak continued to groove on the same tracks in the rural, urban and U+R genres as it did the previous year. India TV and News18 India interchanged their positions in the Hindi news urban market.

Television TV Channels Viewership
Sony Entertainment Television leads urban areas in week 2 of BARC

Sony Entertainment Television jumped to second position to fifth position as compared to the previous week in the Hindi (U+R) genre in Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data for week 2 of 2018. Zee Anmol retained its first position in the rural market. Sony Entertainment Television and...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Aaj Tak becomes the world’s first News Channel to be awarded YouTube’s ‘Diamond Play Button’

India’s No.1 news channel Aaj Tak creates history yet again! The prestigious ‘Diamond Play Button’ bestowed by YouTube, recognises Aaj Tak as the global no.1, the first and the only news channel in the world to have crossed the 10 Million Subscriber mark.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
News18 India launches campaign; asserts channel’s leadership

News18 India, Network18’s general Hindi news channel, recently launched a campaign with a humorous and quirky film to drive home its leadership position in the crucial primetime band in the highly competitive Hindi TV news segment.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Join Drac’s Pack on their cruise as &flix presents its next #FlixFirstPremiere ‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’

It is seldom that you get to see the hilarious side to a monster trying to get himself a date with the help of a technological app like Siri! Have you ever seen a monster film that is full of fun, frolic, laughter, romance and adventure?

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
9XM On Stage with Salim Sulaiman

To celebrate the Republic Day week, 9XM - India’s most popular Bollywood music destination announces the launch of 9XM On Stage a splendid musical night created in honour of the Indian Armed Forces.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
Prime Focus joins hands with Pritam and Kwan to create JAM8

Integrated media services company Prime Focus Ltd has announced its collaboration with Jam8, a musical platform founded by Indian music composer/director Pritam, and KWAN, a talent management company to serve as a 360-degree creative solution provider for the M&E industry.

Television Production House Film Production

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories