Govt approves FM phase III auctions

New Delhi: The government on Thursday cleared guidelines of the much-delayed FM Radio Phase III expansion that will allow private radio channels to broadcast news of All India Radio and enable revenue generation of Rs 1,733 crore from the auction of license for services in 227 cities.
    
A meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also approved hiking of foreign investment limit on private FM radio broadcasting company to 26 percent from the current 20 percent.
    
"The FM Phase-III policy extends FM radio services to about 227 new cities, in addition to the present 86 cities with a total of 839 new FM radio channels," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here.
    
She said the FM phase III policy will result in coverage of all cities with a population of one lakh and above through private FM channels.
    
"Through the auction of license of the FM Phase III expansion, the government is expecting Rs 1,733 crore of income," she said.
    
The Phase I and Phase II policies have resulted in a total revenue accrual of about Rs 1,733 crore up to May 31, 2011 by way of one time entry fee, migration fee and annual fee among others.
    
Soni said the private FM channels will now be allowed to carry news items from AIR. Earlier they had not been allowed.
    
Asked why news from agencies has not been allowed to be broadcast when even AIR is also sourcing from newswires, she said "I don`t rule it out. When greater liberalisation takes place in time to come, it may be considered. It depends on what various ministries say and how the system functions."