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Radio operators seek 300 crore package

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 21, 2020 12:06 AM IST

Having received little support from the Centre’s measures to revive the economy reeling under COVID-19 effect, private FM radio operators have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to approve an economic survival package to keep the severely hit sector afloat.

In a letter to the prime minister, signed by AROI president, Anuradha Prasad, the body said: “... we are deeply pained to note that none of these measures [announced by the FM] has any effect, whatsoever, on the private FM radio sector,” said the letter

AROI said that the only measure that could provide some relief is the extra credit facility for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and that, too, would benefit only a few radio operators.

“Only 31 out of 371 stations are MSMEs, while 340 do not fall into the MSME segment. However, even the 31 out of 371 stations that fall in MSME, cannot avail the benefit, as being heavily dependent on government advertising which has dried up over last one year, they will have no revenue forecasts for repayment to avail the facility,” said the radio operators in the letter.

They requested the government to consider an economic survival package for FM Radio.

“As FM Radio will pay, over next 12 years or so, about Rs 15,000 crore to the government through migration, license fees, rentals, GST etc, a survival package of Rs 300 crore to keep this media sector alive, is of interest to the nation,” said AROI president, Anuradha Prasad, in the letter.

The letter from the radio operators comes at a time when the different segments of the media industry, including the print media and the entertainment industry, have been reeling under losses.

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had also raised the issue pertaining to the losses suffered by the print industry with the government.

The print media industry has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 4500 crore during the months of March and April, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) had earlier said and sought a stimulus package.

A senior government official, when contacted, said the ministry had received a number of requests and representation and they were being looked into.

Former Prasar Bharati member V A M Hussain said that even as the people continued to consume news and entertainment there was a definite case as to the effect the present situation would have on their revenues. In case of radio, the restrictions on the movement of vehicles would also deprive them of a number of regular listeners, who would otherwise turn on radio sets while driving.

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