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Rediff.com  » Business » FM radio auction goes off air indefinitely

FM radio auction goes off air indefinitely

January 12, 2008 14:29 IST
With the Delhi High Court intervening in the process of financial bidding for the 97 vacant FM radio stations, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has postponed the auction indefinitely. This has left the 27 eligible FM radio operators in the lurch for the fourth time.

The financial bidding for these stations, spread across 48 cities, was scheduled for January 14 and January 24 after being postponed thrice.

According to sources in the I&B ministry, Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd approached the Delhi High Court over the definition of a company's "networth" after the ministry rejected its application on this parameter.

"The Delhi High Court is looking into the matter and therefore the financial bids for the 97 vacant stations across 48 cities have been postponed indefinitely," said a source in the ministry. The ministry has also put up a notice stating this on its website.

A company should have a networth of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) for an all-India licence. Radio Today applied for an all-India licence but did not have a networth of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) according to its application, sources said.

The I&B Ministry had intimated January 14 and January 24 as the dates for the auction instead of December 29 and January 10.

The bidding among the shortlisted private FM radio companies was originally scheduled for November 12 and November 26 but was cancelled. The new dates given at that time were December 17 and January 7. These were later changed to December 29 and January 10.

A majority of these stations had remained vacant after last year's bidding for 337 FM stations, out of which licences were awarded for 266. The ministry earned Rs 1,537 crore (Rs 15.37 billion) by awarding these licences to 37 companies.

The 27 eligible players include Reliance Unicom (Big 92.7 FM), Entertainment Network India (Radio Mirchi), South Asia FM (Sun TV), and regional players such as Rajasthan Patrika, Ananda Offset Private, Shri Puran Multimedia (Dainik Jagran) and Synergy Media Entertainment (Dainik Bhaskar Group).

Ashish Sinha in Mumbai
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