Over the next fortnight, the country will have 97 new FM radio stations, a big leap for the already booming industry.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry would allow open bids from 27 companies for the FM radio stations to be launched in cities in five categories on December 29 and January 10. While cities like Delhi, B, Mumbaiangalore, Hyderabad, Allahabad and Jamshedpur will have only one channel, the FM magic will make its mark in smaller towns like Bikaner, Trichy, Udaipur, Warangal, Agartala and Gangtok.
The ministry believes the FM bandwidth is already crowded in major cities and therefore, the scope of providing new FM channels to these centers would be difficult. However, in smaller towns the FM radio is expected to be a major success as more and more people are taking to listening to radio programmes.
The auctioning is proving to be a win-win situation for both the government and the private radio stations. During an earlier bidding, the government had earned Rs 11 billion and has also resulted in a continuous flow of revenue. The government expects to have a huge response from the players this time also.
Although there has been a delay of over six months for the auction to take place, industry sources said, that good sense has prevailed at last with the announcement of the new dates. The government had earlier announced an auction date for June, but had later postponed it to November. However, the December-January deadline is expected to stand.
The ministry is also working on the third phase of FM channels, where all cities would get more FM stations. By next year FM radio players can expect the launch of the third phase, an official said.