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Sun TV top spender in FM Phase III batch 2 auction; ENIL wins maximum frequencies

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has announced the results of the second batch of auction of FM radio Phase III. Sixty-six radio channels have been provisionally sold for over Rs 202 crore in 48 towns, with 200 channels having found no takers. In comparison, the government had earned Rs 1,160 crore in the first batch.

As per the results, Hyderabad received the highest bid of Rs 23.43 crore, made by Sun Group Company Kal Radio. Kal Radio also bought frequency spots in cities like Vellore, Nellore, Salem, Erode and Hubli-Dharward.

The second-highest bid of nearly Rs 15.61 crore was made for a radio station in Dehradun by South Asia FM Ltd, which is also linked to Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Group. South Asia FM also won frequency spots in Jhansi, Agartala, Dhule, Leh, Muzaffarpur and Nanded.

Sun TV Group, in fact, was the highest spender as it bid for frequencies through South Asia FM and Kal Radio. Sun Group spent Rs 80.58 crore to acquire 13 frequencies.
Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL), however, won the maximum number of frequencies with 21 channels in different cities.

ENIL, a part of the Times Group, spent a total of Rs 51.3 crore to win frequencies in cities like Amravati (Rs 3.5 crore), Asansol (Rs 1.94 crore), Durg-Bhilainagar (Rs 1.7 crore), Mysuru (Rs 3.21 crore), Akola (Rs 58.98 lakh) and several other cities. These frequencies are expected to become operational towards the end of 2017–18, increasing the company’s footprints to 64 cities from 43 cities at present.

Prashant Panday“We are very excited with the results of the 2nd batch of auctions! Our 21 new cities give us depth in the most vibrant radio markets in the country. With this expansion, we’ll have 74 frequencies in 64 cities. We look forward to expanding more in the future. However only if the government amends the policy and makes the smaller stations viable,” said ENIL CEO Prashant Panday.

However, the overall response was not good. Thirteen frequencies in towns like Leh, Bhaderwah, Poonch, Kathua and Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir got bids of just Rs 5 lakh each.

Gujarat-based Sambhaav Media Ltd won a total 13 FM stations for Rs 17.5 crore. Out of these 13 stations, eight are in Gujarat and five are in Jammu & Kashmir. The company acquired frequencies in cities like Jamnagar, Junagarh, Mehsana, Bharuch, Godhra, Bhavnagar, Porbandar, Veraval, Kargil, Leh, Kathua, Poonch and Bhaderwah. The operational work for the station will start within a week and the new FM station will be launched in a few months.

Talking about this development, Sambhaav Media CMD Shri Kiran Vadodaria said, “We are starting a new journey by having a bouquet of 13 FM stations in the country. These stations will reach out to approximately 20 million people. The way India’s infrastructure is developing, Tier II & III cities are having huge potential and these cities are developing very fast. In Gujarat, cities like Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Mehsana, etc. are well developed. In J&K also places like Leh are like heaven on the earth, but these places are missing out on their own FM station.”

Malayala Manorama Co Ltd and Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co Ltd each bought a frequency to run radio channels in Allappuzha (Allepey). The winning bid of both the companies was Rs 7.02 crore.

Among other national and regional players who took part in the auctions were Malar Publications, Ushodaya Enterprises and Purvy Broadcast Pvt Ltd.

Phase III covers 839 FM radio channels in 294 cities, but the auction is being conducted in batches in view of the large number. The auctions for Phase III second batch were conducted in October 26 and December 14 last year. It had a total of 266 frequencies in 92 cities for grabs.

The second batch also had fewer players participating than the first batch, 14 compared to 28 in the first batch. HT Media (Fever FM), Reliance Broadcast Network (Big FM), Jagran Prakashan-owned Music Broadcast Ltd (Radio City) and DB Corp (My FM) are among the companies which did not participate in this round.