The government has released an official statement on the Phase III partial auctions, confirming the same.
“The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for conduct of FM Phase-Ill auctions and migration (renewal) of Private FM Radio licenses from Phase-II to Phase-Ill in 69 existing cities for 135 channels,” reads the statement. The auctions will be carried out in an ascending e-auction basis, as was earlier suggested by TRAI. The cabinet has also given approval to migration (renewal) of private FM Radio licenses from Phase-II to Phase-Ill on payment of migration fee according to TRAI recommendations.
The statement further goes on to say that an estimated Rs 550 crore revenue will be added to the exchequer on successful auctions of all proposed channels. More importantly, it will help to decide on market price for new frequencies under Phase III, which is linked to the migration fee as per the TRAI formula.
As of now, with the implementation of two phases of private FM Radio, namely Phase I (1999-2000) and Phase II (2005-06), there are 243 private FM channels in operation in 86 cities of the country, spanning 26 States and 3 Union Territories.
Hitesh Sharma, Executive President of ENIL, which runs Radio Mirchi, said, “We are very excited. It has been something we have been waiting for three years.”
Apurva Purohit, CEO of Radio City 91.1 FM, also expressed her pleasure. “This paves way for the smooth conduction of the auctions and heralds a new era in the FM landscape. Cabinet giving the go ahead means that the Phase III rollout which has been delayed for more than two years can finally happen this fiscal. It is the much awaited fillip and we are all happy with the movement forward,” she said.
“This approval is critical for the industry since some of the licenses were getting over on March 31 2015. We are extremely happy and excited with this development and we look forward to the early culmination of the e-auction process,’’ said Nisha Narayanan, COO of Red FM.