A number of FM radio brands, such as HT Media (Fever FM), TV Today (Oye FM), Mid-Day (Radio One), India Today Group and Music Broadcast (Radio City), among others, want the government or Prasar Bharati to foot a bill of around R800 crore if it wants to accept the recent recommendations made by the telecom and broadcast regulator.
But the move should not delay the third-phase rollout of FM radio (FM-III) which will see 839 new FM stations across 280 towns, these operators said. Also, the five operators in their individual capacity want government assurance that if they accept TRAI recommendations, it should increase their respective 10-year licence permission accordingly, else the move will adversely impact the valuation and market share of existing players.
This happened after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) batted for a 50% reduction in the minimum spacing between two adjacent FM stations in the name of having more FM stations within a city.
TRAI has recommended reducing the channel separation between adjacent FM stations from current 800 kHz to 400 kHz to make space for additional FM stations in every city. However, the radio broadcasters feel the move will not only delay the much-needed rollout of third-phase expansion of private FM radio in the country (FM-III), but will also be a costly exercise.
TRAI's recommendation virtually means reworking of the frequency allocation plan for FM radio within 88-108 MHz bandwidth as it will reduce the channel-spacing between two allocated FM stations from 800 KHz to 400 KHz. Currently, say, between 100 MHz and 103 MHz, there can only be four FM stations at 100, 100.8, 101.6 and 102.4 MHz, respectively. By reducing the spacing to 400 KHz, the number of FM stations will go up to eight.