The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is engaging with national and regional industry bodies, as part of its efforts to encourage more and more local entrepreneurs to participate in the e-auction of the third batch of private FM radio frequencies under FM Radio Phase-III policy.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani said, “We have been engaging with various stakeholders on how to ensure more and more people bid for local FM radio frequencies, especially in smaller towns. In the past, the bidders have been very limited.”

“We have reached out to industry bodies such as the CII and FICCI and stakeholders in the local industry bodies in this regard. We want more and more local entrepreneurs to bid for these FM radio frequencies,” she added

In December last, the Cabinet gave its nod for auctioning more than 683 FM radio channels in 236 cities, including the border areas in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern States. The government said the auctions are expected to generate revenues of more than Rs 1,100 crore.

The Ministry is learnt to be testing the infrastructure, including security checks, as part of the preparations for the e-auction. It will also appoint independent external monitors to oversee the e-auction of the subsequent batches of private FM radio channels.

The first batch of auction of private FM radio stations was conducted in 2015, while the second batch auction was done in 2016. While 97 FM radio frequencies were sold in 56 cities in the first batch, 66 radio channels in 48 cities were sold in the second batch.

The government had earlier said the rollout of the third batch auctions will help expand the FM radio coverage to new cities and provide better choice of content to listeners.

“With the complete rollout of FM Phase-III auctions, all the 29 States and 6 out of the 7 UTs (except Dadra & Nagar Haveli) will be covered by private FM radio broadcasting. This is also likely to generate direct and indirect employment of more than 10,000 persons on a pan-India basis,” an official statement had said. The third batch auctions are expected to be conducted some time later this year. – The Hindu Business Line