By January 2012, there would be over 800 new FM channels all over the country. There are about 225 private FM channels in India at present.
A group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, on Wednesday cleared a decision to hold an e-auction for the process of allowing FM Phase III. The e-auction process would ensure greater transparency—something the information and broadcasting ministry has been calling for.
The GoM also decided that new channels will get licences to function for 15 years instead of the 10-year licences that were granted to existing channels. The GoM has left the issue of increasing the licence tenure of existing channels open for now as their 10-year-licences do not end for another five years.
The GoM has also reiterated that I&B ministry’s position on news broadcasts on FM channels - they will be allowed to use unaltered news feeds from All India Radio and Doordarshan.
The ministry was examining the possibility of allowing them to use feeds from government authorised sources at a later date, say sources.
The ministry did not go by a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recommendation that said private channels could be allowed to relay news taken from various sources, like wire services, authorised but not run by the Centre.