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Govt sits tight on FM fee issue

30-April-2004
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Govt sits tight on FM fee issue

The standoff between the private FM radio companies and the government over the payment of licence fee continues with the government not taking any decision on the issue.

According to senior government officials, the government has not received licence fee from any FM radio companies till yesterday. The deadline for the payment expired yesterday.

However, the radio stations are not likely to go off air, as they have a seven days to pay the fees after the deadline.

The FM radio companies wanted the government to allow to defer the payment of licence fee for the next year as a decision on the new policy framework regarding the sector is under consideration.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had also asked the government to defer the licence fee till a decision is taken on the policy.

The information and broadcasting ministry is not in favour of deferring the payment of licence fee by private FM radio companies and had forwarded the issue to the finance minister. The finance ministry has also not yet taken a decision of the issue.

Government officials point out that a decision on licence fee and the new norms can be worked out only after the elections.

Officials also said that even if finance ministry takes view on the issue, the decision will be taken only after consulting the Election Commission. “Such a move can be interpreted as a violation of model code of conduct,” said a government official.

This will mean that after the expiry of the seven day period, private FM radio companies will have to cough out sum of about Rs 100 crore as licence fee.

In the existing regime, the licence fee was determined by an auction process, which would escalate by 15 per cent every year.

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