The government was planning to cover 50 per cent of India’s population in the second phase of FM radio expansion during the Tenth Five Year Plan and would further extend the coverage to uncovered pockets during the 11th Plan period, Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunshi declared in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. At present, about 33 per cent of the population comes under FM coverage.
“Twelve satellite radio channels on DTH platform are available throughout the country (except the Andaman and Nicobar Islands). The primary grade signal is available to 91.42 per cent by area and 99.13 per cent by population. After completion of the 10th Plan schemes, it would increase to 92.92 per cent by area and 99.49 per cent by population,” Dasmunshi informed the House.
He, however, said that implementation of 10th and 11th Plan schemes would depend upon approval, availability of funds and staff sanction.
In the first phase of FM radio expansion, 108 frequencies were up for bidding, out of which 36 frequencies were auctioned and finally only 21 stations are operational to date.
Phase II of FM radio expansion has created much hype with the government announcing a revenue sharing model from a licence fee regime. Some 100 firms have evinced interest for the 338 FM stations open for bidding in 91 cities.
By the year-end, the pre-qualification exercise for the final bidding will be completed by the Ministry. Then financial bids will be invited for individual stations with the process expected to end by mid-2006. I&B Ministry sources had recently told exchange4media that the new stations would be operational only by 2007.