FM radio broadcasting policy relaxes recasting and ownership norms

The government has approved amendments to some provisions in the “Policy guidelines on expansion of FM radio broadcasting services through private agencies (Phase-III)”, referred to as the “Private FM phase-III policy guidelines”.

The provisions that prescribed a three-year window for restructuring of FM radio permissions within the same management group during a licence period of 15 years have been removed, the government said. The Centre has also accepted the long-standing demand of the radio industry to remove the 15 per cent national cap on channel holding. Previously, no company was entitled to own more than 15 per cent of the total channels allotted in the country.

The government in a statement on Tuesday said the decision received a nod in the last Cabinet meeting.

Another amendment has relaxed financial eligibility norms in FM radio policy. A company with a net worth of Rs 1 crore can now participate in bidding for ‘C’ and ‘D’ category cities. According to earlier norms, there was a minimum limit of Rs 1.5 crore to bid in this category.

Cities with a population between 5 and 10 lakh are categorised as ‘C’ category, while those with population less than 5 lakh fall under ‘D’ category.

“To improve ease of doing business in the country, the emphasis of the government has been on simplification and rationalisation of the existing rules to make governance more efficient and effective so that its benefits reach the common man,” the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in a press release.

The government said the three amendments together will help the private FM radio industry to fully leverage economies of scale. It added that the policy would now pave the way for further expansion of FM radio and entertainment to tier-III cities.

“This will not only create new employment opportunities but also ensure that music and entertainment over the FTA (Free to Air) radio media is available to the common man in the remotest corners of the country,” the ministry said.

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