SC ruling gives FM lifeline to Millenium Broadcasting

MUMBAI: There's hope yet for Millenium Broadcasting, one of the early entrants into the FM scene in Mumbai with its Win 94.6 station, but which has been off air since May 2004.

The Supreme Court has thrown a lifeline to the Gautam Radia promoted private radio venture in its long drawn battle with the government, initially fought through the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

The apex court, which heard the case last week, has ruled in Millenium Broadcasting's favour, concurring with TDSAT's judgment in the matter. TDSAT had earlier ruled that the government shall not auction the frequency 94.6 MHz and that the company was entitled to broadcast FM radio within the territory of Mumbai.

In its ruling, TDSAT had also ordered that Millenium Broadcasting was entitled to the benefit of migration from fixed licence fee regime to revenue sharing regime under the second phase of the FM radio policy, which grants this benefit to the existing license holders.

For the record, the licence of Millenium Broadcast Pvt Ltd was revoked in May 2003 for non-payment of licence fee. Subsequently, in September 2005, the government had invited pre-qualification bids for 338 FM channels in 91 cities across the country, including five FM stations in Mumbai.

After hearing Millenium Broadcast's plea in the matter, TDSAT issued an order in October 2005 stating that the frequency shall be excluded from the ambit of the five FM channels in Mumbai that were up for bidding.

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