Regulators

HC grants partial reprieve to Go 92.5 FM

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MUMBAI: Reprieve has come hours before the last date for payment of license fees by private FM stations falls due on Friday.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday has stayed the encashment of the bank guarantee of Go 92.5, a Mid-day enterprise till 14 June 2004. It has however directed the radio station to pay up 50 per cent of the license fees within 14 days of the court order, says station head Sharique Patel.

For Go, the half amount of the license fee amounts to just over Rs 10 million, as the station is being billed for two months, as it had given notice of operations till 28 June.

The Entertainment Network promoted Radio Mirchi, which had filed a similar petition two weeks ago, was turned down last week, but was supposed to come up for hearing today, the results of which are awaited.

Meanwhile, the Sun Network promoted Suryan FM, got the encashment of the bank guarantee stayed by the Madras High Court on Wednesday. The high court, while granting an interim stay, observed that since the matter of licence fee is pending with the central government for a final decision, an interim stay is granted barring the government from encashing the bank guarantee in case Suryan FM did not pay the fee. 

The last date for payment of the license fees by the private players was 29 April, following which a grace period of seven days was allowed. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations that the fees be deferred was referred by the information and broadcasting ministry to the finance ministry, which refused to comment on the matter.

The I&B ministry, which referred the matter on Wednesday to the Election Commission, was told that deferment of the fees would amount to a breach of the election code of conduct.

The Bombay high court judgment today has come as a breather to the radio stations, although each is awaiting an individual verdict in the courts.

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