FM: Adlabs, Sun TV, Mirchi, B.A.G. emerge winners in B,C, D towns

NEW DELHI: The government has collected Rs 837 million as one time licence fee from FM radio bidders for categories B, C and D cities in North India where 76 frequencies were put up for sale.

The major gainers in this round of bidding include Anil Ambani-controlled Adlabs, South Asia FM (from the Sun TV group in association with Malaysia's Astro), Radio Mirchi and some smaller players like B.A.G. Films, which bagged four cities at last count.

"We are very happy with this announcement and keeping in mind that we are a television content company, we will be able to provide meaningful content to the youth of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and also parts of Punjab. Our experience of more than 12 years will surely bring a remarkable change in the FM industry," said B.A.G. Films managing director Anurradha Prasad.

For 21 cities in North India, 104 bids came in out of which only 63 finally qualified.

Amongst the cities that B.A.G. has bagged are Karnal (Rs 7.1 million), Hissar (Rs 6.1 million), Patiala (Rs 7.1 million) and Shimla (Rs 8.1 million).

Adlabs, which is emerging as a major player in the FM radio sector, lost out in a couple of cities. But it has the satisfaction of bidding the only licence in Srinagar for Rs 6.1 million and being one of the two successful bidders in Chandigarh where the company forked out Rs 150 million.

The other successful bidder in Chandigarh was the Bhaskar group that bagged a licence for about Rs 105 million.

"FM radio will be lapped up by people in smaller cities and it will not be a big challenge to get local advertisers on board," Adlabs' representative Rajesh Sawhney said.

Like South Asia FM, Adlabs too had bid for licences in all the 21 cities. South Asia FM lost out in eight cities.

Another print-to-broadcasting media house, the Kanpur-headquartered Jagran group, made some successful bids in the north Indian cities where the group has editions of its newspapers.

The Jagran group has bagged Agra (Rs 25,600,050), Agra, Bareilly, Hissar (Rs 2,700,000 each), Jallandhar (Rs 22,500,000) and Gorakhpur (Rs 1,800,000), amongst others.

The Bhaskar group, which had put in multiple bids throughout the country via more than one company, bagged licences in Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Jallandhar, amongst several others.

"We have picked up licences in almost all the cities where the Bhaskar group is planning (newspaper) editions in the near future," said a representative of Bhaskar group, which is one of the top three regional media powerhouses in India and runs, in association with Zee supremo Subhash Chandra, the English daily DNA.

The government had put in minimum net worth criteria for companies interested bidding for FM licences. The net worth for D category cities was Rs 5 million, C category cities Rs 10 million and B category cities Rs 20 million.

The process for the remaining 57 B, C and D category cities in East, West and South regions of India would continue on January 20, 27 and February 03, 2006.

Also read:

FM bid: HT, Radio Mid-Day West, Adlabs bag multiple licenses in metros

Government clears 85 companies for FM radio bid; 15 left out

FM radio II: Rs 5 bn+ licence fee in 1st round

Firms tuning in to FM phase II a diverse grouping

Full list of companies that have evinced interest in applying for FM licences

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