Private FM radio licencees in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata need to dish out more in setting up the common transmission facilities. FM licencees need to co-locate their transmitters on a common tower in each of these cities. And as some FM licencees withdrew from the three metros recently, it would result in a higher cost for the remaining players.
According to estimates made by sources close to the project, the cost of putting up the transmitters and the works would go up 10 to 25 per cent for individual players, depending on the city they’re in. While the overall installation cost for the three cities is likely to go down marginally, individual FM players would need to pay much more following the exit of some licencees.
Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (Becil) officials had put the total project cost for three cities at around Rs 10 crore earlier. After the withdrawal of some players, the project investment may go down by approximately Rs 1 crore, as there will be cost-saving due to less number of combiners, fewer air-conditioners and ventilation systems, and less power consumption.
According to sources with the number of players being fewer now, Kolkata players may need to pay around 10 per cent more, while Delhi and Chennai licencees would have to pay 20 to 25 per cent more. As per the agreement between Becil and the licencees, FM players are required to pay a percentage of the total project cost.
In Delhi, for instance, Becil, the integrator for the FM radio and Ignou projects in the three metros, was slated to offer its services to six players in the Capital. Now, the number is down to four licencees, as Mid-Day and Millenium Broadcast withdrew from the fray.
In Chennai and Kolkata, it’s a similar story. While in Chennai, there were five players earlier, including Ignou, the city is left with only three now. Like in Delhi, Chennai also saw the withdrawal of Mid-Day and Millenium. In Kolkata, out of the six licencees (including Ignou) scheduled to go on air, the city only has five players. Vertex withdrew from the Kolkata circle.
Although FM operations in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata were scheduled to begin from August 29, they are likely to face a delay of at least five to six months now. In Mumbai, however, five private FM stations are up and running.