Regulators

ENIL moves HC to postpone FM auctions; case deferred to August

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NEW DELHI: Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL) has filed a petition in Madras High Court seeking a direction for postponement of the e-auctions for FM Radio Phase III slated to begin from 27 July. 

 

The petition was filed in response to an interim order passed by the court allowing Sun TV's FM channels to participate in the auctions while its petition was awaiting a decision.

 

ENIL, a subsidiary of Times Infotainment Media, is the holding company promoted by Bennett, Coleman & Company, owns Radio Mirchi. In its application, the company said it had no objection to the participation of Sun TV companies in the auctions, but only to the conditions imposed.

 

"It is the conditional nature of participation that causes harm to the applicant, not the participation per se," the company said in the petition. "Auctions scheduled for 27 July 2015 may be postponed enabling this court to hear this matter finally and order auctions to take place without any conditionality," ENIL pleaded.

 

The Court adjourned the matter to August, while directing Sun TV to file a counter.

 

Unless the Information and Broadcasting Ministry extends the permission of broadcasters whose licenses are slated to expire on 30 September, they may be forced to go off-air. "This will be a compounded and useless exercise in case the bidding has to be held all over again if the present writ petitions fail and finally the entire process of auctions shall have to be carried out all over again, thereby resulting in wastage of time and resources of the bidders as well as the Government,” the petition said.

 

As was reported earlier by Indiantelevision.com, Sun Group was not given security clearance by the Home Ministry, resulting in its companies approaching the Delhi and Madras High Courts for relief.

 

In Madras, the Court granted an interim relief to Kal Radio’s Suryan FM and South Asian FM and allowed them to participate in the auction, while directing that the result of the auctions may be kept in a sealed cover and produced before the Court. Today, the Delhi High Court reserved its orders for tomorrow (26 July) on a similar petition by Red FM.

 

ENIL has said that other bidders are likely to face grave and irreparable injury in case the auctions are allowed to be held with a conditional participation of the Sun TV and its companies.

 

ENIL also explained that in the event, the e-auction process necessarily entails that each broadcaster shall have a separate computer terminal where it can follow its own progress on whether or not it has won the auction for a particular city or not. Hence to the extent the result is already public and no useful purpose would be served by keeping the results in the sealed cover.

 

At a later date, the petition said, the results of the auction, inasmuch as they pertain to telling all broadcaster bidders of the outcome with regard to be the other bidders, will be kept under wraps and the bidders may get to know about the successful nature of bids much later, second as the bid prices will determine the Non-Refundable One Time Migration Fee for all existing license holders to pay in order to migrate to phase-III of FM radio, such an order would keep the entire migration process in suspended animation, thereby leading to a complete chaos and uncertainty about the future of the present licensees. 

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