AIR plans to get tough with metro FM licencees

Updated: Jan 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
All India Radio (AIR) is likely to send a formal notice to the private sector FM players in the metro cities of Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata informing them of the readiness of its towers for their use.

The FM licencees would have to cough up Rs 7 crore within 15 days of receiving the notice, or risk revocation of the offer by AIR to use its infrastructure.

“We are likely to send the notice by February 1, 2002,” the head of AIR Resources, Hari Om Srivasatava, told The Financial Express. The

mandate of AIR resources is to maximize

AIR revenue through use of surplus infrastructure. While the towers have been ready since the first week of January, the FM licencees have not taken possession so far. They earlier sought detailed maps of the three facilities, which were handed over to them last week. A personal verification of the tower and adjoining land on which the licencees would house their transmitters has now been requested. “We will organise a trip to the AIR facilities for all the FM broadcasters in 7-10 days,” Dr Srivastava informed.

The FM licencees are together required to pay an annual fee of Rs 3.5 crore to AIR for the use of its resources and a refundable security deposit of Rs 3.5 crore.

After taking over the infrastructure from AIR, the FM licencees, through a consortium formed for the purpose, will purchase an antenna in each of the three cities.

This will replace the current antenna on the AIR towers and will take feed from the individual transmitters of the companies. The transmitters will be located in the adjoining land where the FM licencees will have to construct structures to house the transmitters.

“The investment in the antenna and in setting up the infrastructure could cost crores,” said an industry official.

The possibility of some players opting out even at this stage cannot, therefore, be ruled out, sources said.

At the next stage, the FM operators in these three metro cities will have to pay the first year’s licence fee to the government by August 29, 2002 and subsequently commence service.

In Mumbai, there was no deal with AIR since its tower there was not strong enough to accommodate the private players.