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Govt hopes to earn $390 mn from FM Phase III auction

NEW DELHI: With the Phase III auction of FM radio channels finally commencing on 25 October, Information & Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has expressed hope that the auction will add estimated $390 million to the government exchequer.

The first batch of Phase III auction, which had started in July last year and got over in September 2015, resulted in the sale of 91 channels in 54 cities. The first batch comprised vacant channels in existing cities only, i.e. the cities where private FM operators were already present. Therefore, the operationalisation of channels in new cities, taken up in the second batch, will lead to the actual geographical expansion of private FM radio.

Since there are 14 bidders in the second batch, the minister is hopeful of getting as much revenue as possible from the second batch of Phase III auction. He further stated that, with over 800 frequencies offered in Tier III and IV towns (294 cities), radio is likely to match the reach of print.

Owing to the availability of 266 FM channels in 92 cities, the radio industry is poised to witness phenomenal growth, which will primarily be seen after the second batch. Out of a total of 266 channels, 227 channels will be auctioned for 69 fresh cities while 39 channels will be auctioned for existing 23 cities.

Naidu also said that the government would work with the industry to achieve the ambitious target of taking the Indian media and entertainment industry to $100 billion in the next five to seven years. He also added that India’s share in the world M&E market is less than one per cent in the $3 trillion global M&E market.

The minister said that the country’s M&E sector had always been a very liberal media market and that a number of initiatives had been taken such as opening up and liberalising foreign direct investment (FDI) in the broadcast sector.