| 21 Feb 2024
Hitz FM Kolkata allowed migration to Phase II with fee specified for that Phase

NEW DELHI: Hitz FM Radio Pvt Ltd, which runs an FM station in Kolkata, should be allowed to migrate to FM Phase II as it has met all the conditions stated in a letter sent to it by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B Ministry) on 29 November 2012.

However, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal (TDSAT) chairman, Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh, said that the Ministry will be free to check the calculations in regard to payments in terms of the November 2012 letter. The dues, if any, will be paid by Hitz within two weeks from the date of the order. However, if any refund is found due to the petitioners, the same will be adjusted by the Ministry in the future license fee payment.

The Tribunal said it was clear that the issue of violation of the Grant of Permission Agreement (GOPA) had been resolved.

Hitz holds licenses granted by the Ministry for setting up FM Radio Stations in Kolkata. The dispute between the parties arose with regard to the quantum of license fees. Hitz claimed it was entitled to a migration from a fixed fee regime to a revenue share regime, according to the policy of the Government for Phase II. Hitz added that it had made all the required payments and met all the conditions in this regard. It also prayed for quashing the revocation notices dated 22 November 2005, issued by the Ministry for alleged violation of some conditions of the licenses.

The Tribunal said as late as 29 November 2012, the Ministry had agreed to the migration of the petitioners to Phase II, provided necessary modifications in the agreements were carried out and interest rate of 8 per cent as applicable up to the Financial Year ending 2008-09, and  18 per cent was subsequently paid. However, on 26 February 2013, there was a sudden change in the stand of the Government when it asked the petitioners to pay license fees according to Phase II.

Hitz’ counsel said the radio channel had not only modified the agreements, but copies of the modified agreements of 7 May 2013 have been submitted to the Government. Furthermore, the amount of Rs 18 crore paid by Hitz covers all the dues along with 8 per cent interest up to the Financial Year ending 2008-09 and 18 per cent from Financial Year 2009-10, onwards compounded annually.

Thus, the Tribunal said if Hitz satisfies all the conditions of the letter of 29 November 2012 issued by the Ministry, there is no reason why the respondent should change its stand and not permit them to migrate to Phase II and pay the license fees in terms of Phase  II policy.