Radio operators can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the long-delayed move to Phase III seems to be on track again. Last week the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) put out an official request for bids from e-auctioneers to conduct the Phase III auctions of FM radio. According to the RFP (Request For Proposal), the selected agency will have to conduct the auction of 893 FM channels in 294 cities. The interested bidders have been asked to submit their proposals by June 20, 2014.
It has been learnt that the MIB has set the date for the actual auctions for October. Uday Chawla, Secretary General of AROI (Association of Radio Operators of India), the representative body for radio operators in India, also confirmed that MIB has intimated that the auctions will be held in October.
The head of a national FM broadcaster, however, cautioned against putting too much trust in the date and said, “The October date for auctions doesn’t seem to be anything definite. If the agency is selected in June, they will need at least three months to get ready for the auctions. So what the MIB is giving is just the earliest date when the auction can be held.”
Given the constant delays in the transition to Phase III, this scepticism is understandable. Licenses of many FM operators will start expiring from April 1, 2015, so the government will need to hold the auctions by March, at the latest. It remains to be seen whether the MIB will stick to its promise this time around.