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Govt clears FM Phase III auction, migration for 135 channels

“This will be on an ascending e-auction basis. Approval was also given to migration (renewal) of private FM Radio licenses from Phase-II to Phase-Ill on payment of migration fee according to TRAI recommendations,” an official statement here said.

The proposed auction process will add an estimated revenue of over Rs 550 crore to the national exchequer on successful auctions of all proposed channels.

Besides, it will bring in the amount realised through the migration process for FM channels to move to Phase III regime from the current Phase II.

The migration fee for existing channels, will be as per a TRAI recommended formula which links it with market prices estimated through the FM Radio Phase III auction.

As of now, with the implementation of two phases of private FM Radio, namely Phase I (1999-2000) and Phase II (2005-06), there are 243 private FM channels in operation in 86 cities of the country, spanning 26 States and 3 Union Territories, the statement said.

Roll out of the first batch of FM Radio Phase III auction will provide more channels to listeners with richer content in 69 existing cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

An official source said that the I&B ministry hopes clear the way for existing channels, whose licenses expire by March 31, to migrate to Phase III before that date.

A significant aspect of the Phase III process, an official said is that the I&B ministry has agreed to a TRAI proposal for allowing a 15 year license period for FM channels as compared to 10 years for radio channel operators in Phase II.

Another significant aspect related to Phase III expansion of FM is that Radio operators have been permitted carriage of news bulletins of All India Radio (AIR), officials said.

Broadcast pertaining to certain categories like information pertaining to sporting events, traffic and weather etc will be treated as non-news and current affairs broadcast and will therefore also be permissible, the official added.
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