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Majority of towns will be able to get competitive bids: Uday Varma

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Majority of towns will be able to get competitive bids: Uday Varma

While broadcasters have done their best to voice opinions on the woes faced by them in reference to radio Phase III, the government has not been so vocal. Issues such as base price strategy, increasing space between frequencies, license fee, etc. have topped the broadcasters’ charts for a very long time now.

As broadcasters get sleepless nights over these issues, Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting expressed, in an earlier conversation with exchange4media, that the industry should cross those bridges when it gets there. “This is kind of a guess and it is anticipation; it may be correct or may be wrong,” said Verma.

Verma explained that out of 839 towns, there are ‘x’ cities where the base price is just not low enough to attract bids, it can always be changed. “So we are actually questioning the process by evoking some instances where there could be possibility of little bit of difficulty,” he added.

Towns such as Saharanpur and others of the same sect are mainly facing the issue of high base price. Broadcasters have been worrying that due to the current base price strategy, a number of small towns will be rendered unviable.

“Our view is that majority of towns would be able to get competitive bids and we should be able to auction those towns. There still remains a question of some towns which are not being auctioned, so those will be addressed when we reached that stage. So to really feel that the process is somewhat defective because in some cases the base price may be very high may not be the correct position to really take,” said Verma.

E-auctions have been one of the reasons for attracting doubt towards the entire Phase III process. While there has been no criticism about it, radio broadcasters have been requesting to make use of the same bidding process that was used in Phase II.

Commenting on the situation, Verma said, “This is what cabinet has decided and this is what we are going to do. So, it’s a process which is completely transparent and I don’t think that this will in anyway impede better bids coming and I don’t see any connection between the process and the bids coming up. If people find potential in any city for putting FM stations, they will bid. So e-auction is the best way and it will leave no room for criticism.”

MIB has also been focussing a lot lately on All India Radio, changing the face of the radio station completely. AIR was often accused of being too traditional, which ministry took up as a challenge and introduced new media strategies.

“Our effort to leverage social media for dissemination of information has also met with considerable success. The Ministry's YouTube channel has become popular and our Facebook, Twitter and blog have met with very encouraging response,” said Verma commenting on AIR’s new media play.

The ministry seems to have the right objectives and sources in place and the auction is on schedule so far.

With inputs from Abid Hasan

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