FM Stations for 92 New Indian Cities Soon, Radio Industry Bleeding

India is all set to add more FM radio stations in 92 new cities under the third phase of FM radio expansion .The Indian radio sector , according to according to a study conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers is poised to become a Rs 1,200-crore industry by 2010.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday released a consultation paper on “Issues relating to 3rd Phase of Private FM Radio Broadcasting”.

Due to the huge growth of FM Radio Industry and demand for further expansion of FM Radio coverage, Government is considering expansion of FM Radio to other cities through private agencies under Phase-III. In view of this the Government has sought the recommendations of TRAI under Section 11(1) (a) of TRAI Act, 1997 on the modifications to be incorporated in the policy for FM radio broadcasting Phase-III.

FM Radio broadcasting due to its versatility is considered as main medium to provide entertainment, information and education. FM Radio broadcasting was first launched in the country in 1999 and subsequently 21 private channels became operational. Based on the popularity of FM Radio among the masses, Government offered 337 new channels for bidding by private agencies covering additional cities and towns in the Phase –II in July, 2005. As an outcome of this, Letters of Intent (LOI) for 245 channels were issued and 136 channels have become operational. The 97 vacant slots of this phase were put on re-bid recently. It is expected that FM Broadcasting coverage will soon be extended to cover a total of 92 cities.

A consultation paper on “Issues relating to 3rd Phase of Private FM Radio Broadcasting” has been prepared to initiate consultation process. This paper analyses various issues related to FM Radio broadcasting such as expansion of FM Radio to smaller cities including migrate from city permission concept to district permission concept, number of channels to be made available in a city, FDI cap, networking guidelines, allowing news & current affairs program on FM radio, level playing field between FM broadcasters vis-à-vis Satellite Radio broadcasters, change in ownership permission and automatic renewal of permission etc.

Apart from this a number of technical issues relating to co-channel spacing and collocation of FM broadcast transmitters have been raised for deliberation. The International experiences have been compiled to get better understanding of present scenario in other countries.

India’s FM radio industry , according to a The Telegraph report ,is in its infancy and “needs protection. FM industry representatives feel that advertising on radio is not experiencing any significant growth. From its current 2 per cent share it is set to touch 4-5 per cent of the total mass media advertising in future.

Only a couple of FM Operators in India i.e. Big FM and Radio Mirchi are making profit from the radio business . Radio industry is bleeding heavily in India.

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