EGoM fast tracks FM Phase III process

In a post-Budget meeting, the Empowered Group of Ministers declared some strong measures for Phase III auctions, including taking up fee issues with TRAI

e4m by Saloni Surti
Published: Mar 7, 2013 2:39 AM  | 3 min read
EGoM fast tracks FM Phase III process

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) met on March 6, 2013 to discuss the third round of spectrum auction to be conducted by the Department of Telecom (DoT) with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) presenting Phase III issues, wherein a number of strong measures were taken.

Confirming the news to exchange4media, Anurradha Prasad, President, AROI and Chairperson, BAG Films and Radio Dhamaal said, “EGoM happened today. Phase III implementation is on fast track. We are not privy to the minutes of the meeting yet.”

Fast tracking the process will open up a number of locked doors for radio players, who have been waiting for the auction for quite some time now. Commenting on the development, Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD, Radio One said, “EGoM has passed the policy, which has been fast tracked post the Budget. Fee related issues have been referred to TRAI and so we at Radio One feel this is going to be an exciting year for the radio industry and we thank the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for pushing this forward.”

The government promised to auction 839 new stations and presence of private radio stations in additional 294 cities in the Union Budget for 2013-14. The Finance Minister also declared that post auction, all towns and cities with population up to one lakh will have private FM services.

Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City said, “We have been awaiting the implementation of the policy for a while and it is indeed good news that the EGoM has cleared the same. Expansion of FM will be beneficial to all stakeholders – the players, listeners, advertisers and the government. Phase III will certainly push FM in the direction of growth and achieving its true share of 8 per cent of the advertising pie. We compliment the government and MIB officials on delivering on their commitment to the growth of the FM industry.”

The e-auctions were initially scheduled in 2012 and the GOPA migration deadline was set on March 31, 2012. Radio players started feeling the heat when the deadline was postponed to June 30, 2012 and later further postponed to December 31, 2012. According to the latest notice, the GOPA migration deadline is June 30, 2013.

According to a CII-Ernst & Young study titled ‘Poised for Growth: FM radio in India’, the FM radio sector is expected to grow by Rs 23 billion at a CAGR of 18 per cent within three years of Phase III being rolled out. EGoM’s decision to fast track the process indeed seems like a silver lining for the radio players, who have been suffering in terms of content differentiation and revenues.

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