Even as a group of private FM radio licencees continue to hope that the deadline for payment of licence fee may be extended, sources have indicated that the government has refused to budge. With just nine days to go for the last date for paying licence fee in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata circles, the government is unlikely to give in to the wishes of the FM players in the three metros.
Although integrator for the FM radio project, Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (Becil), has asked for 24 weeks to co-locate the transmitters of all the licencees on the All India Radio (AIR) towers in three cities, players would have to shell out the licence fee by August 29, much ahead of their actual operation. That is, if the government does not grant the licencees a reprieve. The licence fees for Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata stations are Rs 7 crore, 3 crore and 1 crore, respectively.
Earlier, FM licencees in these cities had approached the government for permission to set up interim operations individually, as they were unable to co-locate in the permitted time. But, the government had turned down this plea as well. So, after their talks with French infrastructure firm TDF failed for integrating the FM project, the licencees entered into an agreement with Becil for the job. Now, Becil has asked for 24 weeks to complete the integration project.
While Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata licencees’ recent plea on both licence fee date and interim set-up have not gone down well with the government, Mumbai was different. In the case of Mumbai, government allowed licencees to set up individual operations for a period of two years, before they could co-locate, besides granting them a short reprieve for paying the licence fee. It may be recalled that the other three metros also got a reprieve in paying the licencee fee once, for about a period of eight months.