All India Radio (AIR) has surprised FM licensees in the metro cities by announcing that its towers in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai were ready and the operators could take them up as soon as they wanted. Prasar Bharati was earlier expected to have the towers ready only by April-May this year.
According to the ministry of Information and broadcasting sources, now that the towers were available, the FM licensees in these metros would have to start their services within four months or risk losing their bank guarantees.
FM operators in the metro cities had got a breather from the government, after the December 29 deadline for rolling out services expired due to non-availability of a tower for co-location of transmitters.
AIR had offered to rent out its facilities in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, but the infrastructure had to be beefed up before the operators could set up their equipment.
The development seems to have caught the FM licensees unawares as they were under the impression that they have time till August end to roll out their services.
The agreement between FM licensees in these cities entails an annual rent of Rs 25 lakhs per operator in Delhi and Rs 13.36 lakhs in Chennai and Kolkata for the towers. In addition, AIR would charge Rs 8000 per square metre for land for setting up transmission equipment and common infrastructure.