A proposal to introduce 135 FM radio channels in 69 cities across the country is likely to be considered by the Union Cabinet on Friday.
Once cleared, the decision will allow these radio operators to carry news bulletins of All India Radio “in an unaltered form”.
Currently, 245 FM radio channels are already operational. As per government sources, the e-auction of these 135 channels would form the first part of the FM Phase III policy of the government that envisages extending FM radio services to around 227 new cities.
Eventually, the government plans to allow close to 800 FM radio channels in around 300 cities under Phase III, which is targeted to cover all cities having a population of one lakh and above. Ministry officials said the permission to operate these channels will be valid for a 15-year period, subject to certain conditions.
While channels under the FM Phase III policy will be permitted to carry AIR’s news bulletins in exactly same format on terms and conditions mutually agreed with Prasar Bharati, they will not be allowed to broadcast any other news and current affairs programmes, sources said.