In the midst of elections, while bureaucrats in the information and broadcasting ministry want to stay away from any controversy, the minister has taken a different stand. Even as his officials don’t want to extend the deadline for payment of the FM radio annual licence fee, I&B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has referred the matter to finance minister Jaswant Singh.
Over-ruling his bureaucrats, Mr Prasad has sought the guidance of the finance minister on the issue. The thinking in the I&B ministry is that any extension of the deadline could attract the Election Commission wrath. Also, a fee waiver could mean a loss of revenue worth over Rs 100 crore, according to officials.
Now, the ball is in the finance ministry’s court, for a decision. However, as a source in the government put it, “radio players can buy more time now, as the finance minister is away for elections.” The deadline for paying the licence fee in metros is April 29.
Even the Telecom Regula-tory Authority of India recently recommended an extension of deadline for the FM players.
Interestingly, among the metro players, those operating only in Chennai and Kolkata have not made any representation to the government for a deadline extension.