Regulators

FM Phase III e-auctions commence, MHA to study judgment before deciding on appeal

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NEW DELHI: The e-auction for the first batch of FM Phase III commenced today, even as the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry said that it will abide by the court's order.

Director-General (Media and Communications) Frank Noronha said no decision had been taken. “But we will go according to the advice of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” he said. It is learnt that the MHA is consulting its legal team to examine if the Delhi and Madras High Court orders permitting FM channels of the Sun Group to participate in the auctions should be challenged.

Any decision would depend on receiving the detailed Delhi High Court judgment as the judges only read out the operative portion in their verdict yesterday (26 July).

Furthermore, any appeal in the Supreme Court will have to be filed by the I&B Ministry after getting full inputs from the Home Ministry.

The I&B Ministry had in fact written to the Home Ministry earlier this month wanting full details of the denial of security clearance to Sun Group for purpose of preparing their arguments.

Sun Group runs 45 radio channels across the country including those of Suryan FM and Red FM and had gone to Court in Delhi and Chennai when its name did not figure in the first list of 21 pre-qualified bidders for e-auction of the first batch of private FM radio Phase III channels.

Earlier, I&B sources had told Indiantelevision.com that the government hoped to earn around Rs 600 crore from the 135 frequencies in 69 channels being auctioned in the first stage out of the total expectation of at least Rs 2,500 crore from the total 839 FM channels in 294 cities.

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