TRAI released its recommendations for Phase III of FM radio licencing, where the regulatory body has mooted that the geographical basis for private FM radio bidding in the future may be changed from ‘city’ to ‘district’. TRAI has also recommended a hike in FDI cap to 26 per cent from 20 per cent for FM radio licence holders, who are interested in broadcasting news.
The FDI cap for FM radio broadcasting permission holders who do not opt for news broadcasting may be enhanced to 49 per cent from the present 20 per cent.
FM radio broadcasters may be permitted to broadcast news taking content from AIR, Doordarshan, authorised TV news channels, UNI, PTI and any other authorised news agency. No other source of news is permitted at present.
All private FM radio broadcasters may be permitted networking within their network. Networking across permission holders is not permitted. Co-channel spacing within district being used at present may not be changed and kept at 800 KHz. Similarly, 400 KHz channel spacing between two channels in adjacent districts is to be maintained.
TRAI has also recommended provision for automatic renewal of permission to only district level permission holders of FM radio broadcasting. Extension for renewal should be requested four months in advance of expiry of permission period.
All successful bidders may be mandated to co-locate their transmitters with existing facilities of All India Radio if available and technically feasible within a pre-defined period. In the absence of AIR facilities, the successful bidders may form consortium and set up the required infrastructure.
Regions like the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir have been given special dispensation in the policy framework by way of reduction in the annual fee payable by broadcasters in these regions for a period of three years from the date of issue of LoI.
The bidding for remaining 97 channels of Phase-II scheduled on city as operational area be rescheduled considering district as operational area to avoid complication of subsequent migration from city to district level.
Number of channels for FM radio broadcast in Category A+, A, B, C cities, now changed to districts basis, which may have been reduced due to non-availability of frequencies during Phase-II bidding, may be restored as envisaged in Phase-II, subject to technical feasibility.
At least three channels, excluding AIR, in any district will be given to three different entities excluding AIR. Once this condition is met, the existing operator / permission holder may be declared successful for any channel where his bid is highest, subject to the condition that maximum number of channels to a permission holder in the district will not be more than 50 per cent of total channels in the district. The existing ceiling limit of 15 per cent of total FM radio channels in the country permitted to a permission holder is no longer valid.
No change in holding pattern of the shares shall be permitted till start of the FM radio broadcasting.