Speaking at the CII CEOs Roundtable on Media and Entertainment on Thursday, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar touched upon topics such as Phase III auctions, lifting of ban on news on FM radio and more, which has given fresh hope to the radio industry in the country.
Speaking specifically about community radio, Javadekar promised that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) will provide impetus and encouragement for starting 1,000 new community radio channels.
He then touched upon the topic of the current news ban for private FM operators, commenting that this was a topic close to his heart. “Sometimes I cannot understand the government’s logic. If TV can have 24x7 news channels, then what sin has radio committed?,” he asked. He further said that there was no reason to just take content from AIR and added that FM operators should have more options. “If people want to hear news on FM channels, then they will,” he said. He promised the radio industry that the matter was being discussed and positive action will be taken soon.
Javadekar also assured the radio industry that the new government will be one of “stable policy regime, transparent mechanism and time bound action”. Taking note of the constant delays in getting the Phase III migration up and running, he told the assembled dignitaries that the process was on and the auctions could be held in December. “If it can be done before December, then it should be. We will see if it (the process) can be shortened,” he promised.
Radio industry upbeat
Commenting on the I&B Minister’s speech, the radio industry seemed enthused that their problems were at least being addressed and understood. Said Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, Radio One, “We are very pleased with the Minister’s encouraging comments to ‘delete the word delay’ and implement Phase III bidding before December 2014 and ensure a smooth transition for extension of licenses of existing players before expiry. We look forward to a time bound implementation road map for the same, which begins with acceptance of TRAI formula for extension and a GOPA signing date that is not pushed further and further.”
Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City also expressed the hope that the Minister will stick to his word about removing ‘delay’ from the government’s lexicon. She said, “We believe that it is high time the government eases out the regulations on the radio medium. The arrival of a new phase will include creation of multiple job opportunities, increase revenue for the government, & create larger scope of coverage for local traders and businesses to advertise. The advantages are many; all that is required is that one signature on the policy document and the TRAI recommendations that are ready and waiting to be signed for the past three years. We are hopeful that the dynamic I&B Minster would give the radio industry much needed fillip.”