The private FM industry is getting ready for the mock auctions which start today. For more than a decade operators who want to start their radio channels have been waiting for that long sought dream of Phase III to become a reality.
As things stand today, all the existing FM stations might be playing on a level field with the long awaited auctions happening the coming Monday. Today, and for the next 48 hours, the ones selected by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, will be participating in mock auctions to find their feet before the actual Phase III auctions happen on July 27, i.e next Monday.
But there is one hiccup; that is the continuing problem with RED FM, which has approached the Delhi and the Chennai high court. The Delhi court asked the centre to reconsider postponing the auctions. The Chennai High Court has to still give its decision, which is expected to come today.
So where does that leave the FM industry?
The private FM industry has supported Red FM since the start of the issue but if it comes to a situation where the Phase III auctions will be delayed once again, things might change.
There is no doubt that that the FM industry feels for, and supports RED FM, in its continuing struggle with the Home Ministry; a struggle that owns its genesis to the parent company Sun TV Network.
FM operators that we have spoken to have always been of the belief that RED FM should not be punished for an issue that involves one or two individuals. But the question is will FM operators still be as supportive if the option is that the Phase III elections get postponed once again?
No FM operator obviously wants that. Everyone is quite ready to be part of the auctions and everybody’s strategy is pretty much in place. Another delay will not only affect their own business projections but also any potential conversations with clients.
Even the government will not want a delay in the auctions, since a delay anyway hurts the government exchequer.
In our conversations with FM operators, what we have seen is that everyone wants the auctions to happen as soon as possible. It makes business sense for everyone. Now all that remains to be seen is what bearing the High Court’s decision has.