The cabinet today passed the decision to hold partial auctions for Phase III as well as the TRAI recommendations on the auction process. A formal announcement from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) is still awaited at the time of publishing, however, the news has been confirmed from multiple sources. Uday Chawla, Secretary General of Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) said the industry was happy with the announcement and glad the cabinet and the ministry are moving quickly to push ahead with the auctions.
The plan to hold partial auctions, which includes auctioning off leftover frequencies from Phase II before moving to the new frequencies, was first put forward in December, when it was given the nod by I&B and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The final clearance on both the partial auctions and the TRAI recommendations is important as it will enable the transition of existing operators before the license termination date of March 31, 2015 and open the way to auction of the new frequencies.
“We are happy with the announcement and hope the partial auctions will be done quickly to then allow migration of existing players as per the TRAI formula. The government has just ensured that India earns Rs 2,000 crore from FM radio this fiscal and now MIB must ensure it sticks to the timeline to prevent loss to the exchequer,” said Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD of Radio One.
The next stop in the process is a release of the official ad inviting bids as well as announcement of the auction date, which is expected to take place in the coming days.