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Sun Group barred out of FM Phase III auctions, MIB lists pre-qualified bidders

MUMBAI: In a major blow to Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Group, an inter-ministerial panel has rejected its application to participate in the upcoming FM radio Phase III auctions after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stood firm on denying security clearance to the beleaguered group.

The Sun Group runs 45 FM channels under the brand name Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in other cities.

The Sun Group companies that had applied for the auctions were South Asia FM Ltd, Kal Radio Ltd (subsidiary of Sun Network), Sun TV Network, Digital Radio Mumbai Broadcasting (Red FM Mumbai) and Digital Radio Delhi Broadcasting (Red FM Delhi).

Following the meeting, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has issued the list of 21 pre-qualified bidders for e-auction of the first batch of private FM radio Phase III channels.

Initially, 28 firms had applied for the auctions, including 13 new players.

The MIB has also rejected the applications of two new players —Shahi Shipping Ltd and Sunplant Broadcasting Pvt Ltd (parent company Sunplant Group has interests in agriculture and construction)—on technical grounds.

List of Pre qualified

The Sun Group is the only company whose application has been denied due to security clearance. While government is ready to conduct the Phase III auctions without Sun, it is understood that the company is planning to move the High Court against the permission.

Earlier, the MHA and MIB had turned against each other over the former’s decision of not giving security clearance to Sun TV Network. The matter was then referred to the Law Ministry, whereupon Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi had opined that the company should be given security clearance.

Incidentally, the MIB will conduct training for the pre-qualified bidders on Friday at the National Media Centre, New Delhi.

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