| 26 Sep 2023
Red FM gets extension of licence to operate till November end, notice issued to I&B ministry by Delhi High Court
Red FM

NEW DELHI: Red FM gets its breather, after Delhi High Court today extended the licence of Red FM to operate in the national capital as well as in Mumbai and Kolkata until further orders. The company has pleaded seeking direction to the Centre to allow it to migrate to phase III from II.

The extension was given by Justice Rajiv after the radio channel said that while other similar companies were allowed to migrate to Phase III in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, Red FM has not been granted any such permission till date. It's licence is to expire tomorrow.

The channel “shall be allowed to maintain and operate its FM radio channel under Phase II regime till further orders”, the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on 18 November.

Notice was issued to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B)Ministry to get its response on the plea of Sun TV Group’s Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs radio operations under the name of Red FM.

Counsel Harish Salve on behalf of the petitioner told the court that it had communicated to the government its willingness to migrate to Phase III but had received no response, including the amount to be paid for migration.

He said since the existing licence has not been extended and permission for migration has not been granted, Red FM will have to shut operations and will be off-air from 1 October.

Salve and senior advocate Rajiv Nayar appearing for the channel said the company learnt on 26 September that other radio operators have been issued letters by the Government regarding steps to be taken for migration to Phase III.

The petitioner sought enforcement of its right to migrate to FM Phase III regime and maintain and operate its existing channel at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

It alleged that the Ministry has “deliberately without giving any reason” not taken the requisite steps to enable the channel to migrate from phase II to III regime despite fulfillment of all eligibility criteria for migration.

Meanwhile, learnt that the I&B ministry is still awaiting a detailed note from the Home Ministry on denial of security clearance to radio channels of the Sun TV Group which had managed to participate in the recent e-auction only after Court orders in Delhi and Chennai.

Earlier in July, Sun Group CFO S L Narayanan had in an interview told that the denial of security clearance to the group was unethical since no security issues were involved in the cases against the Maran brothers, and there had been no conviction in any case.

He had also said that this amounted to an attack on the freedom of the media.

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