Good News From TRAI to Indian FM Stations

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday released recommendations on Third Phase of Private FM Radio Broadcasting in India.
One of the barriers for further growth identified by the Authority during the consultation process, according to a press release , relates to the restriction of existing guidelines that do not permit news and current affairs on FM Radio broadcast. Information requirements of large section of unserved population and those who lack access to information through other means like internet, television services, etc. can be conveniently met without any cost to the receiving population only through FM Radio services.

Sustaining the growth witnessed in FM Radio sector is possible only if certain major policy decisions are taken and these include increasing the number of channels for FM Radio broadcast. One such area which is said to affect the viability of FM radio operations in the country is the restriction on multiple ownership of channels in a city and networking of FM radio programmes across entities. The Authority has weighed the pros and cons of these restrictions and has concluded that the benefits arising from the removal of these barriers are likely to be very large in terms of its direct and indirect impact.

Another major Recommendation that may remove barriers for consolidation and thus fuel further growth in the sector relates to a change of the unit for Private FM Radio broadcast licensing from city to district. This one step would effectively enhance the area of operations of FM Radio broadcasting to larger geographical area and thus covering a larger population. This again would result in reduction in the cost of operations for the broadcasters. Necessary flexibility has however been provided for retaining the existing area of operations.

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had sought recommendations of TRAI in terms of Section 11(1)(a) of TRAI Act, 1997 on the modifications to be incorporated in the policy guidelines for FM Radio Broadcasting Phase-III.

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