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FM players to lobby for tax sops, music rights fee

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NEW DELHI: The newly-formed Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI), a body of FM radio licencees, has decided to petition the government on tax sops and work towards rationalization of music rights fee.

In a meeting held here today, AROI members, approximately 35 in number, including the big ones like Radio City, Radio Mirchi, the Sun TV group, Adlabs, expressed serious concern over high rates being demanded for music rights and also by Prasar Bharati for sharing its infrastructure with private players in some cities.

In a recent interview with Indiantelevision.com Music Broadcast Private Limited CEO Apurva S Purohit had said, "It is a fairly high fee rate that we pay to the music bodies. And I think that's where some rationalization needs to be brought about. It is calculated per hour per city. With a large of number of stations in the kitty, a consolidation in the amount has to be brought about. We are working with the industry to bring a rationale pricing. It is a big cost. It can range between five to seven per cent of the cost structure that goes to the music bodies, which is fairly high.

"The members feel there should be an all round rationalization of rights fee and money demanded by Prasar Bharati for sharing infrastructure, which certainly is unjustified as it doesn't take into consideration that in smaller cities the level of investments will be comparatively less," AROI co-coordinator and BAG Infotainment chief executive Rajiv Mishra told Indiantelevision.com.

Over 40 private sector companies, holding 287 FM radio licences across 91 Indian cities, are preparing to start operations.

According to Mishra, Prasar Bharati has demanded money for infrastructure at the rate of Rs. 54 to Rs 55 per square feet, which would bring the annual cost to around between Rs. 400,000-Rs. 500,000.

Such a cost will prove to be high for smaller operations in smaller towns, Mishra said, trying to explain the economics of setting up a radio station.

Today's meeting of AROI, attended by most members, also decided to form a panel to frame the constitution of the organization. Radio operators will again meet on 29 March to finalize the constitution.

AROI will be a registered, non-profit, non-governmental society dedicated to protect the common and collective interests of FM Radio broadcasters.

It will have a core executive council and will be supported by several committees on areas like legal & regulatory affairs, finance & commercial, technology and dispute settlement.

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