Panel To Submit Report On FM Radio Privatisation Tomorrow

New Delhi: | Updated: Nov 14 2003, 05:30am hrs
Finally, the expert committee on FM radio is ready with its recommendations, which would pave way for the second phase of privatisation. The committee, headed by Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra, would submit the recommendations to information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad this Saturday, according to sources. The panel has already missed many deadlinesSeptember 30, October 31 and then on November 7.

According to a source familiar with the development, the committee has sent at least three drafts of its recommendations to the government. Mr Mitra told eFE a few days ago, the report is ready.

As per the final report, revenue-sharing between private FM radio players and the government has been pegged at 4 per cent, according to sources. It may be recalled that a lower revenue-sharing rate was proposed by some members of the expert committee on radio. Revenue-sharing will follow payment of a one-time entry fee through a process of bidding.

The committee is recommending foreign direct investment (FDI) on par with television news at 26 per cent. Currently, up to 20 per cent of foreign institutional investment (FII) is permitted in FM ventures. FDI is not allowed in FM radio at all.

Another area where the committee has recommended a change is content of the radio programmes. While private FM radio stations are only allowed to broadcast non-news and non-current affairs programmes, the committee has suggested inclusion of news.

It may be recalled that the existing FM licencees, who had bid sky-high for licences during the first phase of privatisation, found the going tough once they set up operation. That was when FM radio companies, including Bennett Coleman, Living Media and Mid-Day, began intense lobbying with the government, stating that the high licence fee regime was killing their business. Subsequently, government decided to constitute this committee to overhaul the rulebook for FM radio business.