Delhi HC dismisses FM operators' petition

NEW DELHI: In what could be taken as a major setback to private FM radio operators, the Delhi high court today dismissed a petition filed by a clutch of private FM radio operators,saying that the courts interference at this stage is unwarranted.

The court also suggested that Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) appears to be the right forum to address such issues.

Hearing the case today Justice Ravinder Bhatt observed,I cannot consider that the view taken by TDSAT will lead to injustice and cause irrevocable prejudice requiring interference of this court at this stage.

The judges observations came after the government had filed in a reply as to what it was doing with recommendations from sector regulator relating to radio broadcasting. The details of the government reply were not available till the time of filing this report.

The direction from Justice Bhatt came on 10 petitions filed by three private radio operators, including Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd (Red FM),seeking a direction to the government to take a decision on telecom regulatory Authority of India recommendations dated 11 August, 2004.

Two other petitioners were Music Broadcast Pvt Ltd (Radio City) and Entertainment India Network India Ltd.(Radio Mirchi).

Last week, the Delhi High Court had asked the central government to clarify by today the timeframe within which it would take a decision on TRAI's recommendation that private FM Radio broadcasters be shifted from licence fee regime to revenue-sharing regime.

Petitioners had also sought setting aside of a 17 November, 2004, order of TDSAT by which they were ordered to deposit one third of the licence fee for the year within two months.

The petitioners had argued that the government's inaction on TRAI recommendations was causing huge financial loss to the petitioners. Recently, Radio Mirchi and Radio City had given notices of closure of radio stations at Pune and Lucknow, respectively.


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