It seems the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has accepted TRAI's recommendations on FM Phase III migration, which were made back in February. The radio industry has been urging the Government to make an announcement as soon as possible as it would enable them to arrange finances accordingly.(TRAI releases Phase III recommendations, agrees with broadcasters on most points)
According to sources in the industry, the Government has now accepted the recommendations. "We were asked for some clarifications on the recommendations and it looks like that they have been accepted," said one source, who did not wish to be named.
Similarly, the lifting of ban on news broadcast also seems to be heading to a speedy conclusion, with sources suggesting that Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar has agreed to allowing news on FM channels (A similar statement was made by the Minister in an interview to PTI recently). Another industry insider close to the developments said that announcements regarding both the removal of news ban for private FM and the acceptance of TRAI recommendations will be made in the coming weeks. According to him, the announcements (especially lifting the news ban) are just pending the Minister's final approval.
If this is true, then it lends credence to reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set October 2014 as the deadline for carrying out FM Phase III auctions. It is learnt that the October deadline for carrying out Phase III auctions was taken by the Prime Minister at a recent internal Government meeting. The October deadline has, in fact, been touted for quite some time, though no official announcement has yet been made regarding this and radio players seem to be still sceptical about whether the auction process would be completed in October, especially since the e-auctioneer who will carry out the process is yet to be decided upon.
However, it seems the Government wants to at least get the auction process up and running by October. Just last week, the MIB had announced the final shortlist of agencies, which includes – e-procurement Technologies, mjunction Services, MSTC, and C-1 India.
The radio industry has reacted mostly favourably to I&B Minister Javadekar since his appointment and he, in turn, seems to want to speed up matters too. The Minister has been vocal about shortening of processes and bringing a speedy resolution to the issue of the news ban. (I&B Minister gives a boost to radio sector, promises shortening of processes)
The MIB did not reply to emails sent to them.