FM radio spectrum auction likely in March
November 22, 2012
By: Media Mughals
The government is likely to hold the third auction for FM radio spectrum by March, officials in the department of telecommunications (DoT) said to Livemint. "The eGoM (empowered group of ministers) will decide on the timeline and the reserve price in the next meeting,"one of them said, requesting anonymity.
The panel of ministers that finalized the rules for the 2010 3G spectrum auction and the latest one for 2G frequencies will make the key decisions on the third phase of the FM radio auction, Mint reported on 26 September.
Apart from the minimum price and the time, the group will decide on the total number of channels to be auctioned. The move to change the number of channels comes in the wake of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) 19 April recommendations to reduce the gap between channels to 400 Khz from the existing 800Khz.
The panel will also decide on an electronic auctioneer and the fees, if chargeable, for migration of phase two FM licences to phase III. Unlike phase two, in which licences were issued for 10 years in 2006, phase-three licences will expire after 15 years.
Broadcasters are however opposed to the government’s decision to auction FM radio services, fearing that paying for the spectrum will make the business case for radio channels unviable.
Phase three is expected to cover 227 new cities, in addition to the current 86. Of the four metros, only Kolkata will not get a new FM channel. Mumbai will get two, while Delhi and Chennai will get one each. Under phase two, 245 FM channels are operational in 86 cities.