The government plans to take a lenient view of the private FM radio players breaching the December 29th deadline for starting service because it feels that the delay has been caused by circumstances beyond the licensees’ control.
The extension could be as much as 6-9 months for the metro players who face a more arduous task of finding towers to co-locate their transmitters.
In the three metro cities of Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, the FM players have signed an agreement with Prasar Bharati for use of transmission towers of All India Radio (AIR) to co-locate their transmitters earlier this month. AIR is likely to take that time to get its towers ready.
In the case of non-metro cities however, there is no pre-requisite for co-location. The deadline extension for non-metro cities therefore is likely to be limited to a few weeks.
FM licenses have been given out for 37 stations in 19 cities. The licensees include Bennett Coleman & Co (12 stations), Ispat group’s Music Broadcast (6 stations), Living Media (three stations), Vertex Broadcasting of the Dabur group (four stations), Mid-Day (three stations), Millennium Broadcast (three stations) and Udaya TV (one station). Private FM players are however not allowed to broadcast news and current affairs programmes.