The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has postponed the Phase II bidding for FM licenses yet again. The Ministry had announced in the beginning of the New Year that new dates for submission of bids for 97 FM radio stations in 48 cities would be January 14 and 24. But now those dates too stand cancelled.
This follows the Delhi High Court’s dismissal of a review petition filed by the I&B Ministry against an earlier court order allowing Radio Today to bid if it fulfilled certain conditions. Following HC’s dismissal of the petition, the Ministry was forced to postpone the bidding due to several complications, and this has triggered widespread confusion amongst industry leaders.
The I&B Ministry had filed a revision petition before the Division Bench against above order, which was dismissed by the Bench. Radio Today had filed its calculation of revised net worth with the Ministry for approval as it desired the Ministry’s concurrence before putting in extra money as time was short to comply with the Court, however, the Ministry chose not to respond but filed the revision petition.
Following HC’s order, the whole process of the Phase II bidding for balance stations again goes into jeopardy, as in case Radio Today is allowed to bid, other radio players (including Radio City, Radio Mid-Day, etc) rejected on similar grounds, should also be given a chance to amend their technical bids.
Biggies like Reliance, Unicom (Big 92.7 FM), Entertainment Network India (Radio Mirchi), Sun TV (South Asia FM), and regional players such as Rajasthan Patrika, Ananda Offset Pvt Ltd, Shri Puran Multimedia (Dainik Jagran) and Synergy Media Entertainment (Dainik Bhaskar Group) are in the fray for the FM slots.
The bidding was originally scheduled for November 12 and 26, 2007, but was cancelled just five days before the bidding. The new dates given at that time were December 17, 2007 and January 7, 2008, which were later changed. These were revised to December 29, 2007 and January 10, 2008, only to be postponed yet again to January 14 and 24, 2008, which also now stands cancelled.
The understanding of the radio industry is that the Government would revise the definition of net worth in the Phase III policy to be announced in a few months from now.
I&B Ministry extends new dates for FM radio auction for fourth time in a row