The long-awaited roll-out of radio Phase III auctions is expected to change the game for the private FM radio industry in India. Phase III is expected to dole out 839 new licenses across 294 cities, which opens untapped markets for radio broadcasters. While Phase III comes with a number of policies such as e-auction and base price, there is also a networking model policy that can help radio broadcasters.
With the networking model policies, radio players shall be able to create networking of channels within companies’ entire networks, instead of just in C and D categories of cities.
In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media on radio Phase III, Minister Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said, “Certain independent external monitors had to be appointed because the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) refused to be a part of internal ministerial committee, which would oversee this entire exercise, saying that they cannot be a part of any administrative function. I had requested the Ministry to ask the CVC and the CAG to become part of the internal ministerial committee as there could be a concurrent audit and vigilance oversight.”
“The CVC and the CAG in turn recommended that we could possibly use independent external monitors. We have recommended some names to the CVC. But they have requested more names so that there is a larger pool to choose from. Once we have the independent external monitors in place, either on the internal ministerial committee or exercising concurrent oversight, the process can then be kicked-off,” Tewari added.
When asked how MIB plans to deal with issues such as base price and license period in such a short interval of time, he replied, “We have run this on many occasions; the fact is that there are legitimate concerns which the industry has but there was a Group of Ministers headed by the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which cleared the ascending e-auction and the reserve price. It then went to the Cabinet, which on July 7, 2011 endorsed that decision and subsequently, there was some representations for the industry.