Government now looking at throwing open bids for FM phase 3

NEW DELHI: The government's going radio ga GA looks like.

Information & broadcasting secretary SK Arora today said that the government is exploring phase three after seeing the overwhelming response it got from private players to the second round of bidding for FM radio licences.

Arora, who interacted with journalists on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's 26th general conference in the capital after outlining the developments in the media, said in the third round of bidding, smaller towns and circles would be targeted.

However when asked by, Arora didnt give a time frame, saying, At the moment, we will have to get the first two phases of FM on stream and then we will examine the possibility of a third phase, which is part of a bigger plan to get the whole country on the FM (radio) map. I
cannot give any time frame for the third phase now. It may take even a year.

The financial bid process for the second phase of FM private radio was for 338 radio stations spread across 91 cities. The bidding started on 6 January and was done in five stages.
Out of the total frequencies, 279 frequencies were finally picked up. Some more licences will be given away in lieu of those surrendered by bigger players.

It is interesting to note that FM radio phase II had witnessed new entrants such as Reliance-Adlabs and Bhaskar group bidding intelligently and aggressively, besides the existing radio players some of whom, like the Sun TV group, widened their presence in the country.

Still, he admitted that a Prime Ministers Office-initiated panel recently discussed the issue of news on private radio stations. No recommendations have been made yet and the government would examine if any suggestions were made in this regard, Arora added.

Broadcast regulatory authority draft bill ready
Delivering the keynote address at the CBA conference earlier, Arora also said that the government is contemplating a regulatory mechanism for the broadcast sector and a draft paper is ready, which would now be discussed with the industry stakeholders.

In his opening remarks, he said that a Broadcast Regulation Act is being contemplated to refine and define the parameters that would guide the regulation of broadcast content and carriage in the changing scenario where more and more convergence is taking place.

According to him, a self-regulation content code too is being developed in consultation with the industry, which will lay emphasis on self-regulation. The regulator will intervene in case of broadcaster s failure to self regulate, he added.

After having outlined the importance of the amended uplink guidelines and the newly placed downlink law, interestingly Arora said that the broadcast regulatory law might also include clauses on private broadcasters obligations to public service broadcasting.

Pointing out that of late the private broadcasters have also started doing public service broadcasting, Arora said the government is considering whether the roles of Prasar Bharati (the major public service broadcaster) and the private players, who are meeting their obligations on public service
broadcasting, could be converged in due course.

It could be infrastructure or content or both. We are still examining how this could be highlighted, Arora said when asked about private broadcasters role in public broadcasting.

While inaugurating the CBA event that was surprisingly shorn of media hype, information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said that time has come to examine as to how much disinformation is being carried along with information dissemination taking place in todays world.

While lauding the role of CBA within the commonwealth countries, Dasmunshi said sharing of information among members could be further articulated to reduce tensions.

CBA secretary general Don Micknon highlighted the role of broadcasters in strengthening the cooperation among the member countries ever since its inception in 1945.

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