The radio fraternity has pledged its support to Sun TV-owned RED FM and Suryan FM as they find themselves in deep waters following a CBI investigation against Chairman Kalanithi Maran. The investigation has led to the Home Ministry holding back security clearances to Sun TV as well as the two radio channels.
A source told us that a formal announcement would be made in the coming days.
Industry insiders we spoke to have expressed their disappointment that the company should suffer for the alleged misdemeanours of just one person. “The Sahara case was even bigger but the company was allowed to function even when the owner (Subrata Roy) was jailed. There is no reason why all the people associated with RED FM and Suryan FM should pay,” said one person who did not wish to be named.
It is being estimated that the government stands to lose more than Rs 400 crore in migration and bidding revenue if RED FM and Suryan FM are not allowed to participate in the Phase III auctions.
Meanwhile, radio executives are still awaiting confirmation of the Phase III auctions, which are tentatively expected to be held in early July. One person familiar with the situation told us that the Sun-Home Ministry tussle would not delay the auctions. “There are a couple of operators (apart from RED FM and Suryan FM) whose security clearances are still to be approved by the Home Ministry. Once these get passed, we will see the auctions move ahead,” he said. An announcement is expected this week.
Insofar as Suryan FM and RED FM are concerned, there is no clarity on what are the options before the two companies right now. They can always approach the court of law and ask for redress. The MIB can also grant an intermediate license extension to the two till the courts sort out the issue, said one radio executive. Earlier this year, Suryan FM had won a temporary license extension till June 16, after appealing to the Madras High Court.
According to a report in the Indian Express this week, the Home Ministry is ready to grant security clearance to Sun TV if there was a change in ownership or the company disbanded its board of directors.