The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued notices to Reliance owned Adlabs and Sun Group to relinquish the FM radio frequencies above the maximum permitted 45 limit within a week’s time.
In the five-round bidding process for the FM Phase II expansion for 337 frequencies in 91 cities, which ended on Feb 3, Sun promoted Kal and South Asia FM together won 71 frequencies, whereas Adlabs grabbed a total of 57 frequencies. But as per rule, a single entity is allowed to hold a maximum of 15 per cent of the total allotted frequencies, which comes to 45. Thus, Adlabs has to leave 12 frequencies and Sun has to let go of 26 frequencies.
Adlabs, in particular, was open about its eagerness to hold all the frequencies it had won and it was obvious from Reliance Entertainment President Rajesh Sawhney’s words, “We have been asked to surrender the additional frequencies within a week’s time. It’s an unfortunate decision on part of the government.”
When asked whether Adlabs would leave all the frequencies it had won in D Category cities, Sawhney said, “Many of them would be from the Category D cities, but not all.”
Out of the 13 D Category cities, Adlabs has won in 11 cities, while Sun has won in nine cities. These cities, especially the cities belonging to the North-Eastern states were apprehended to be hit hard by this decision. However, as per I&B Ministry officials, the rebidding process for these left-out frequencies would start after 45 days of the completion of the ongoing process. Thus, the government may reinvite fresh tender notices for around 87 frequencies in April 2006.