| 28 Nov 2023
Private FM wants FDI at par with GECs

New Delhi: The country's private FM radio players have recommended an increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the radio sector.

At a Stakeholders' Consultation on 22 January, 2016 on the Phase III e-Auction, players concurred on a lock-in period of three years on the composition of the largest Indian shareholders as well.

According to Information & Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Sunil Arora, the aim of FM’s Phase III was to enhance radio density in the country and efforts should be made for supporting FM radio to grow into a viable business model. Arora had said that he wanted all stakeholders to give their suggestions and inputs in writing by 30 January, considering that some stakeholders have already submitted their suggestions in their meeting with him.

At the Consultation, FM operators felt that the reserve prices recommended by TRAI on 24 March, 2015 were very high and unviable. However, ministry officials said the TRAI recommendations were advisory in nature.

Similarly, some players argued that the rentals by Prasar Bharati were very high.

Some players also pointed out that the FDI limit could be increased to 100 per cent to bring it at par with the general entertainment channels as no news other than that from All India Radio was permitted to be aired on private FM radio.

This suggestion from Reliance Broadcasting found favour with many of the participants but some companies like ENIL and DB Corp wanted permission to make news bulletins on their own. The Association of Radio Operators in India said news from PTI and ANI could be permitted.

AROI said that if subsequent auctions take place in batches without relaxing the 15 per cent national cap, then this cap should be applied on overall number of channels being put to auction in phase III and not batch wise.

ENIL found it unreasonable that Phase II migrant licenses were made to undergo three years’ lock-in restriction under Phase III regime as well when they had already served five years’ lock-in under Phase II. But HT Media said the lock-in requirement was fundamental to FM Phase III policy.

The AROI representative suggested that to begin with, operators may be allowed to collect news from ANI, PTI etc. apart from AIR.

A representative from Digital Radio Broadcasting also suggested that connected companies of a group be treated as a single entity for participation in online bidding / auction process.

Suggestions for future rounds included more clock rounds per day; increase of Auction Activity Requirement (AAR); apart from auction report at the end of the day, and report of each round.