EC endorses prompt payment of FM license fees

NEW DELHI: The Election Commissions uttering may not be music to the ears of the financially-beleaguered private radio FM companies operating stations in several cities of the country. But it has also put a question mark on the validity of the broadcast and cable regulators existence and recommendations.

The election regulator, in charge of overseeing the conduct of elections in India, a process that is underway at the moment, today afternoon observed that keeping in abeyance the licence fee payment of FM radio companies would amount to breach of model code of conduct during polls. This was in response to a query from the information and broadcasting ministry.

I&B ministry bureaucrats today said that private FM players may stand to lose their bank guarantees if the licence fee are not paid up by Friday.

This means that the licence fee, which became payable on 30 April, would have to be coughed up. Even a weeks grace period that is generally given under such circumstances gets over on 7 May.The licence fee of all the private radio FM players put together would amount to approximately Rs 700 million (Rs 70 crore), according to estimates put forth by bureaucrats in the information and broadcasting ministry.

This is a line that had been maintained by the bureaucracy, which had even made noting on files concerned to this effect. The cabinet secretary, earlier, had observed that any change in the present guidelines would need a Cabinet clearance, which at this stage is not prudent as it would attract model code of conduct during polls.

The finance ministry, to which the issue had been referred last week, put the ball back in the I&B ministrys court, saying it was up to the I&B ministry to take a call on the recommendations made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Government officials told that only the new government could justifiably take up the issue of deferment of licence fee of radio FM companies through a process that is likely to be time consuming.

As and when the new government is formed, the issue (of FM radio) would be taken up afresh, studied and then a cabinet note would be prepared. The whole process could take up to three months as radio FM may not be the top priority for the new government, a senior official explained.

The matter of license fee payment by FM operators in the country has been moving from ministry to ministry for the last two weeks, even as operators sought relief from the crushing fees that fell due in the last week of April.

While the Entertainment Network run Radio Mirchi tried to seek legal succour from the Mumbai high court last week and failed, the Millennium Broadcast operated Win downed shutters, protesting the high license fees and demanding a more rational model. The latest to join the bandwagon is Radio Mid-day, which too has sought legal recourse and relief from the Mumbai HC. The case has not been heard yet.

All private FM players are keenly watching each other's moves as well as waiting for the government's next step, which could well decide private FM radio's fate in the country.

Latest Reads
Smriti Irani says govt mulling legislation for online content

With the rising usage of social media, platforms are witnessing an increasing incidence of hate content. Since these platforms do not fall under any regulation in India, it’s a tough task to curb the problem with the help of law. Information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani said at the...

Regulators I&B Ministry
TDSAT tells Airtel DTH, Star to negotiate

The Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has asked Star India and direct to home (DTH) operator Airtel DTH to negotiate and enter into an agreement.

Regulators TDSAT
TRAI-Star case back to Madras HC with SC rider

The Supreme Court (SC) today referred the case relating to The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and Star India involving the proposed tariff regulations back to Madras High Court (HC) with a rider that the judgement should be delivered within a month.

Regulators TRAI
Complaints against misleading ads rose by 50% in 2017

The number of cases registered with regard to misleading advertisements has been on the rise. Grievance against Misleading Advertisements is a separate portal by the Department of Consumer Affairs to dispose of such complaints.

Regulators I&B Ministry
TDSAT 'reserves' order on landing-page case

NEW DELHI: Telecoms and disputes tribunal TDSAT on Thursday reserved its order—the judge will pronounce the verdict later—on a case filed by a few multi-system operators (MSO) on sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) decision to ban the use of boot-up or landing page for...

Regulators TDSAT
ISRO, DoT turf wars delaying connectivity reach: govt official

MUMBAI: India builds low-cost satellites but has the most expensive bandwidth, a senior Indian government official said on Tuesday, blaming turf wars between ISRO and Department of Telecoms (DoT) for delays in taking connectivity to far-flung areas. DoT special secretary N Sivasailam also flagged...

Regulators People
SC could take up TRAI-Star case on tariff regulations

MUMBAI: The Star India-TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) case, which attracted a split verdict in the Madras High Court (HC) recently, took another turn today with the Supreme Court (SC) while adjourning case till Monday showed inclination to dispose of the case itself. As per reports...

Regulators TRAI
MIB calls for 'fiscal prudence' in Prasar Bharati

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) on Friday justified certain government directives to India’s publicly funded national broadcaster Prasar Bharati Corporation by saying “fiscal prudence” was the need of the hour, while reiterating its commitment to safeguard interest of...

Regulators I&B Ministry
Madras HC gives split verdict in Star India versus TRAI case

While parts of the country took a break on a moderately warm day after playing Holi, the Madras High Court delivered a split verdict in a case involving Star India and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), apart from several other private and government organisations.

Regulators TRAI

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories