The Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has completed the hearing of the case filed by Radio Mid Day against the Union Government and Adlabs Radio.
Radio Mid Day had appealed against the frequency allocation policy of the Government as per which it had been displaced from its previous 92.5 FM allocated under Phase I and has been allocated 94.3 FM for five stations and 95 FM in one station in Ahmedabad under Phase II FM expansion. The reason given by the Government was that because Adlabs Radio-promoted Big FM, which had won 45 stations under Phase II, had been allotted 92.7 FM, hence due to ‘technical reasons’ another station could not operate at 92.5 FM as a minimum of 600 to 800 MHz difference between two operational frequencies was needed.
Continuing from Thursday’s hearing, TDSAT asked Additional Solicitor General, P P Malhotra, appearing on behalf of the Government, to explain if it was not possible to allocate any other frequency to Adlabs Radio instead of displacing Radio Mid Day.
Malhotra tried to explain that in other seven locations, too, frequencies had been shifted and it was not a case in isolation. “Because of a huge number of stations being licensed, it was necessary to change the frequencies at some places. Under the licensing agreement, the Government has the power to change the frequencies to maintain uniformity,” he said. To this, the court cryptically observed that “for a moment, let’s assume that you have all the powers under the Sun. But the exercise of that power has to be justified.”
Adlabs Radio, the respondent, said that they had nothing to gain by displacing Radio Mid Day and would have been happy with any other uniform frequency. “There is no malafide intention and we are not trying to cash in on any brand value created by Radio Mid Day at 92.5 FM,” a representative of Adlabs Radio said.
The petitioner, Radio Mid Day, said that the Government’s claim of bringing in uniformity through the frequency was misleading. “Rather it’s creating more disharmony. If that was the purpose, then the Government should have given a single frequency to Radio Mid Day instead of allocating a different frequency in Ahmedabad.” Showing the advertisements of Big FM, where it highlights its frequency, the petitioner stated, “Frequency is an integral part of the brand identity of an FM channel.”
The Tribunal asked the Additional Solicitor General to submit the names of the players whose frequencies had also been changed under the frequency reallocation as an affidavit by Monday or Tuesday.
As reported first by exchange4media, the Government has allocated single frequency to players having multiple stations across the country, after the FM radio industry body demanded for the same.
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