The Government may decide to go ahead with the auction of 839 FM radio channels, as per its earlier plans for Phase III expansion.
Later, it may decide to auction additional frequencies in batches, if the regulator’s recommendation to reduce inter-channel spacing gets the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) nod.
To ensure better utilisation of spectrum, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in April, had recommended reduction in inter-channel spacing to 400 KHz from the existing 800 KHz, which, if accepted, would increase the number of FM radio channels.
This proposal was not part of the approval that the Cabinet gave for the phase III auction of FM Radio, so the EGoM has been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing FM Radio auctions.
The EGoM has to decide on TRAI’s recommendations besides other decisions for FM Radio auction. The Ministry of Information Broadcasting has asked Broadcast Engineering Consultants India (BECIL) to study whether it is technically feasible to reduce the inter-spacing between channels. A senior official said the Government expected to auction over 200 radio frequencies by March next year in the first batch, which will include Jammu and Kashmir and other border regions. The auction has been facing delays after the policy got Cabinet approval last year.
The EGoM also has to approve the changes in ‘Request for Proposal’ for selection of e-auctioneer for carrying out ascending e-auction. It also needs to decide on the fee chargeable from players who migrate from FM Phase II licenses to Phase III licenses, besides other issues.
The Government expects to earn over Rs 1,500 crore through these auctions.