The much-awaited second batch of auctions of private FM Radio Phase III, which began on Wednesday, saw 58 channels in 42 cities become provisional winners.

In the latest round, 266 FM channels are up for grabs in 92 cities. On day one of the auctions, four rounds of bidding took place with the cumulative provisional winning price at ₹182 crore, compared to their aggregate reserve price of about ₹ 179.2 crore, a statement from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.

The ongoing process is a simultaneous multiple round ascending (SMRA) e-auction being conducted online. Fourteen bidders are in the fray, including Entertainment Network India Ltd, Kal Radio Ltd, South Asia FM Ltd, The Malayala Manorama Company and Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing.

Hyderabad , where one frequency is up for auction, saw a provisional winning price of ₹20.83 crore at the end of four rounds of bidding. The provisional winning price of one channel of Dehradun closed at ₹15.61 crore.

Earlier, M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, had said that he is optimistic about a positive response for the auction.

The Centre expects that this phase of auction will help take private FM Radio to 69 new cities where 227 channels have been put out for auction, he said.

The States of Uttarakhand and Nagaland, and the Border Area Towns of Poonch, Mokukchung, Leh, Kathua, Kargil and Bhaderwa will have private FM channels for the first time, the Ministry added. At the end of the first day, some of the cities that received bids included Agartala, Aizawl, Bhaderwah and Leh. Meanwhile, 39 unsold channels from 23 cities of batch I of Phase III have also been put on auction.

Some industry experts, however, had pointed out that the high reserve prices could emerge as a challenge during this phase of auction. Bidding will resume on Thursday.