Reliable sources have indicated that the pending acquisition of Chennai-based Aahaa 91.9 FM by Fever FM has been green-lit by the MIB.
An official statement has not been received by either of the two radio stations. A person familiar with the deal, who did not want to be named, said the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has given a go-ahead in principle. Another industry source also confirmed that the acquisition had been “approved officially”.
However, it should be noted that other formalities like receipt of Notice of Intent (NoI) and signing of Grant of Permission Agreement (GoPA) between the radio station and the ministry are still to take place.
It will also be interesting to see how this affects other pending acquisitions that have still to receive the official MIB nod. In April, the TV Today Group approached the High Court seeking to speed up the takeover of its radio division; Oye FM by ENIL, which runs Radio Mirchi. Jagran Prakashan’s big money acquisition of Radio City, which took place in December, is also waiting to receive the ministry’s official approval.
Fever FM, which is the radio division of the Hindustan Times (HT) group, operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. Aahaa 91.9 FM has operations limited to Chennai. Chennai has 1 frequency up for grabs in the upcoming first stage of the Phase III auctions, which is expected to be contested by the likes of Suryan FM, Hello FM, Club FM, etc. With the Aahaa FM deal now looking likely to be wrapped up, it means Fever FM has stolen a march on its rivals in the south without having to go through the much more expensive option of the auctions.
A senior radio executive at a south India-based radio station said, “Chennai might not be as big a market as Mumbai or Delhi but it has a strong local retail base and so it is among the top 4-5 markets in India.” “Aahaa FM is doing average business but it is not in the top 4 in Chennai, he said, further adding that the Chennai market is currently dominated by Suryan FM, Radio Mirchi and Hello FM.