The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday suggested a new licensing regime for private FM radio channels consisting of a one-time entry fee and a revenue share of four per cent.
In its latest recommendations the authority has recommended a migration of Phase I licensees to the revised Phase II regime in case they are successful in the bidding for Phase II. It also recommended a low entry fee to increase the number of players and enhance competition, and has offered the maximum number of frequencies possible in the metros and Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Among other recommendations are: a minimum of two frequencies to be offered even in the smallest town to ensure competition; allowing flexibility in technical conditions to optimize the technical specifications. TRAI has asked the Government to review the existing restriction on news and current affairs.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, had on February 12, 2004, sent the report of the Radio Broadcast Policy Committee to TRAI for making appropriate recommendations. Dr Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI, headed the committee. Subsequently, five private FM broadcasters had submitted a representation requesting deferment of the Annual FM License fee, till the Government takes a decision on implementation of the report of the Radio Broadcast Policy Committee. The Government on February 24, 2004 had referred this representation to TRAI for its recommendations.
Since this issue was linked to the recommendation on Phase II licensing and TRAI was in the process of preparing a consultation paper on the same -- which was likely to take time -- TRAI had provided its interim recommendation to the Government on the representation of the FM broadcasters on April 5, 2004.
In line with its consultative approach, TRAI issued a Consultation Paper on April 14, 2004 for giving its recommendations to the Government on Phase II licensing. Meetings were also held with various stakeholders. TRAI also held open house discussions on May 7, 11 and 15 in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, respectively.