It seems that Mumbai will have to wait for some time, even as the metro cities of Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata are getting ready for the launch of private FM radio stations before December 29, 2001.
At a meeting between the Prasar Bharti and the metro radio licensees, an agreement was hammered out for the temporary use of the All India Radio (AIR) towers by the private broadcasters in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. The agreement is expected to be signed within a week.
According to the sources AIR will be charging a flat annual fee from the broadcasters for the use of its infrastructure facilities. Although the radio broadcasters feel that the fees is too high, the agreement has been arrived at Rs 25 lakh per annum per broadcaster in Delhi and an amount of Rs 13.3 lakhs each for Chennai and Kolkata. The equipment will be owned and managed by the private broadcasters.
According to the sources, the AIR tower in Mumbai is too old to be able to support the equipment of all broadcasters. However an alternative arrangement are being worked out to solve this problem.
As per the license terms, the metro licensees had an obligation to build a common transmission tower by partnering with the other licenses in these cities due to frequency considerations. However due to delay in the construction of these consortium towers it was felt that the metro licensees could start transmission from a temporary tower, in order to fulfill their license condition of commencing service before December 29, 2001.
There are six licensees each in Delhi and Mumbai, they are MidDay Multimedia, Living Media, Millennium Broadcasting, Music Broadcast and Bennett and Coleman. Kolkata has five licensees—Vertex Broadcasting, Living Media, Hitz Radio and India FM, Chennai has four licensees—MidDay Multimedia, Sun TV, Millennium Broadcasting and Bennett and Coleman.