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Sun TV’s Red FM gets migration breather from Delhi HC in 3 metros

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has once again come to the rescue of Digital Radio Broadcasting, an associate company of Kalanithi Maran’s Sun TV Network, which operates private FM brand Red FM.

The High Court today extended Red FM’s licence to operate in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata until further orders. The licence was to expire tomorrow and thus the company had moved the HC to get permission to migrate from Phase II to Phase III.

Digital Radio’s counsel Harish Salve pleaded that while other companies were allowed to migrate to Phase III in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, Red FM had been deprived of the permission.

Justice RS Endlaw extended the licence, saying that Red FM shall be allowed to maintain and operate its FM radio channel under Phase II regime until further orders.

The court has issued a notice to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) and listed the matter for further hearing on 18 November.

“Red FM has got an order that the non-sending of letter by the MIB informing them about the non-refundable one-time migration fee (NOTMF) shall not amount to prejudicing their right to migrate. They can continue to be in Phase II until the migration fee is notified to them and can migrate after paying the fee once it is notified,” said a legal expert.

Salve also told the court that the company had communicated to the ministry its willingness to migrate to Phase III, but it received no response, including the amount to be paid for migration.

Newswire PTI reported that Salve and senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for the company, also informed the court that other radio operators, including Entertainment Network India Ltd, which runs Radio Mirchi, as well as Music Broadcast Private Ltd, which runs Radio City, have been issued letters by the government regarding steps to be taken for migration to Phase III.

In its plea, the company alleged that the ministry had ‘deliberately without giving any reason’ not taken the requisite steps to enable the channel to migrate from Phase II to Phase III despite fulfilment of all eligibility criteria for migration.

Earlier, when the government had refused to grant permission to Red FM to participate in the Phase III auctions, a division bench of the Delhi HC had quashed the order and allowed the companies to participate in the auctions.