In an effort to get private FM radio stations started in the country, the government is mulling over giving private FM broadcasters the option to put up their own transmission tower in metros as an interim arrangement. As per a co-location clause, FM broadcasters were supposed to put up a common transmission tower in metros.
Some broadcasters are finding it difficult to locate an appropriate site for setting up the tower. Moreover, it may take some time to import equipment and start operations. They have requested us to allow use of their own towers or use All-India Radio's facilities in the interim period," a senior official from information & broadcasting ministry said.
Officials said the government was considering the request and would take a call on the issue in consultation with equipment manufacturers and broadcasters.
Meanwhile, the government is getting its act ready for the second round of bidding for FM radio. Around 70 more stations are expected to be up for grabs in the second round of bidding. This may also include those cities in which bidding could not take place in the first round.
The untapped circles include Cochin, Jalandhar, Guwahati, Agra, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Madurai, Mysore, Panaji, Raipur, Rajkot, Shillong, Trichy, Trivandrum, Varanasi, Srinagar and Jamnagar.
After the first round of bidding, the government was set to collect Rs 425.03 crore as licence fee for 100 FM frequencies auctioned in 40 cities. However, it collected around Rs 158 crore as the first year's licence fee, which is 40 per cent of Rs 425.03 crore.
As per the final tally, only 16 out of 28 companies have signed the FM agreement. Those in the fray include Bennett & Coleman, Hitz FM Radio, India FM Radio, Radio Today, Mid-Day Radio, Millennium Broadcast, Music Broadcast, Sun, Udaya and Vertex Broadcasting.