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FM radio firms lose Rs 200 cr in FY04

08-June-2004
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FM radio firms lose Rs 200 cr in FY04

The private FM radio companies incurred a total loss of about Rs 200 crore in 2003-04, company representatives said in a representation to the government.

Besides, the companies have also called upon the government for a faster implementation of the Amit Mitra committee recommendations. Representatives from various FM Radio companies including met the information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy today.

According to senior information and broadcasting ministry officials, the government has categorically asked the companies to pay the licence fee as per the directions of the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

TDSAT had directed the FM radio companies to pay license fee for operating till August this year.

Besides, the government has also told the private FM radio companies that it would not be in a position to hand out any special concessions to the FM radio companies till a decision on the Amit Mitra committee recommendations are taken. The committee was set up to draw up a policy to government the FM radio sector.

"The government has reiterated its earlier stand and has asked the FM radio companies to pay up the license fee," said a senior information and broadcasting ministry officials.

On the issue of faster implementation of the Amit Mitra committee recommendations, the government has asked the companies to wait till the final recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Government sources also said the NDA government had given a commitment to the private FM radio committee to waive the license fee till a final decision on the sector was taken. However, the cabinet decided to not to take a decision fearing violation of the model code of conduct during the elections.

Trai in its interim recommendations had favoured foreign direct investment in the private FM radio companies. It had also favoured news and current affairs programming on private FM radio stations.

Private FM radio companies have been demanding FDI as well as news and current affairs programming. The companies are of the view that they would be able achieve financial stability if FDI is allowed. They are also of the view that news and current affairs programmes would give companies additional scope for advertisement revenue.

On the issue of migration to the new licensing regime, Trai has pointed out that before migrating to the new regime a level playing field should be ensured.

According to Trai, it can be done by clearing all license fees dues till the date of migration. Trai consultation paper said that the main issue for consultation would be about the categories of licensees that could be considered for migrating to the new regime.

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