The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes in the policy guidelines for expansion of FM radio as proposed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry,paving the way for the long-delayed e-auction of 839 FM stations across 294 towns this year.
The government expects to rake in a revenue to the tune of over Rs 1,500 crore from the auction of new radio channels as a part of the FM Phase III expansion.
The Cabinet had cleared the policy guidelines for expansion of FM radio through private agencies way back in July 2011,but the auction could not take off because of certain technical problems over the prescribed auction methodology. The FM broadcasters too,meanwhile,raised concerns over the city-wise minimum reserve price and demanded inclusion of additional channels in cities delaying the process.
Another bone of contention was the quantum of migration fees for existing radio broadcasters who are keen to shift to FM-III.
The Ministry was to follow the process adopted by the Department of Telecom for auction of 3G and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) Spectrum,but the DoTs RFP had laid down criteria like previous experience in conducting telecom auctions which the I&B Ministry felt it was not needed in case of FM auctions.