Private FM broadcasters gained a minor victory yesterday (February 20, 2014) when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued its list of recommendations to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), agreeing to most of the proposals put forth by private radio operators earlier this year.
It should be remembered that the issue of Phase III migration has yet to see a concrete resolution and radio operators are understandably anxious for it to be resolved before the March 31, 2015 deadline. Chief among the concerns are the high migration fees for existing cities as well as the prices for new cities added to the Phase III auctions. Another concern is regarding the license period under Phase III, which was set by the MIB as 10 years.
TRAI had issued a consultation paper to the radio community in December last year, seeking their thoughts on the proposed Phase III migration. Yesterday’s recommendations are a direct response to the radio operators’ proposals.
Among its recommendations to MIB, TRAI has agreed with radio operators on most points, such as granting licenses for 15 years from the date of migration to Phase III and fixing the date of migration as March 31, 2015, the day Phase II licenses expire. Another issue that radio operators have had with MIB’s Phase III migration plans is the high migration fees, which had been communicated to TRAI. In its recommendation, TRAI has suggested to the MIB a number of other options to overcome this.
Of course, TRAI’s recommendations still need to be ratified by the MIB, however, radio players that exchange4media spoke to feel that they meet industry demands. A spokesperson for a national radio station said that apart from some uncertainty about base prices for new cities, the recommendations are in line with what the operators had asked for.
Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD of Radio One also felt that the TRAI recommendations are encouraging, especially the suggestion of a 15-year license period. “However, we will wait for MIB to revert on auction dates so that the migration date can be specified, which will have to be before March 2015, as specified by TRAI,” he added.