If you are eager for the arrival of the second phase of FM radio stations, then you will have to wait some more. The Phase II FM stations won’t be arriving before the year 2007, according to I&B Ministry sources.
“The pre-qualification exercise for the final bidding has already begun and will end by the end of this month. Financial bids will be invited only after that. The whole process will end by mid-2006. The interested parties will then set up studios and transmitters for which they will take some more time. So, the new stations would be functional only in 2007,” informed an I&B Ministry official.
The Phase II of FM radio expansion has created much hype with some 100 firms showing interest for the 338 FM stations open for bidding in 91 cities. Some major media houses vying for the supposedly ‘next-big-thing’ include Hindustan Times, Malayala Manorama, Rajasthan Patrika, Mid-Day, Sri Adhikari Brothers, Deccan Chronicle, BAG films, Adlabs Films, and ETV, apart from the existing players.
With the government allowing FDI up to 20 per cent in the radio sector, foreign players, too, have expressed their eagerness to have a pie of the booming FM radio space. So far, roreign media houses like BBC Radio and Germany’s Deutsche Welle have come forward with their plans and more players are expected as things materialise further.
Hindustan Times Ltd already has an alliance with Radio Virgin. STAR has also evinced interest in taking up a stake in one of the successful bidders. Radio Mirchi’s declaration of entering the capital market with an IPO, the first IPO by any Indian radio player, has added fizz to the whole process.
At present, the share of radio in the Rs 12,000-crore advertising market is a meagre 2 per cent, which is far lesser than the global average of 6-7 per cent. Analysts expect the market to grow at a faster pace to be worth Rs 1,300 crore by 2008.