330 pvt FM radio stations to go air soon

By agencies   |   Thursday, 30 June 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The government today unveiled a new policy aimed at ''ushering in a radio revolution'' that will see 330 private FM radio stations spring up in 90 cities across the country with 20 percent foreign investment, including FDI.

The FM radio stations will, however, primarily be entertainment-oriented as these will not be allowed to air any current affairs news content.

The new policy for the second phase of FM radio in the private sector was approved at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy told reporters.

Under the policy, the new FM radio stations would have to pay a one-time entry fee (OTF) that would be decided through a closed bidding process and each successful bidder would pay according to his bid amount. In addition, they will have to part with four percent of their annual revenue as license fee.

The existing operators, who number a mere 21, would have to pay the average one-time entry fee paid by the successful bidders.

The bidding process would start in about a month.

To prevent monopoly, no operator would be allowed to run more than one station in the four metros and other major cities. Nor can they have networking of their stations in major cities. Further, no company would be allowed to run more than 15 percent of the proposed stations. Telecom regulator, TRAI, had recommended 25 percent, but the Cabinet reduced it to 15 percent, Reddy said.

The new policy was aimed at expansion of such channels, rather than ensuring revenue for the government, the Minister said.

The first phase policy, announced in July 1999, had a lot of emphasis on revenue, instead of growth. ''That experiment failed. We have, therefore, decided to accept the recommendations of the Amit Mitra committee and TRAI in favor of revenue sharing formula,'' Reddy said.



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