TRAI releases consultation paper on issues of the FM Radio sector
Stakeholders can submit written comments on the consultation paper by March 9th, 2023, and counter comments, by March 23rd, 2023.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper to gather opinions on various matters related to FM radio stations. This includes whether FM radio stations should be allowed to broadcast independent news bulletins, the annual license fee and license period for FM radio operators and whether it should be mandatory for all mobile phones sold in India to have built-in FM radio transmitters.
At present, FM radio stations are only permitted to air the news bulletins of All India Radio in the same format without any changes. They are prohibited from broadcasting any other news and current affairs programmes on their platforms. TRAI has received requests from industry players and organizations, suggesting that FM radio stations should have the same rights as private TV channels and digital platforms to broadcast news and current affairs.
According to the policy guidelines, FM radio license holders are obligated to pay an annual fee to the government. This fee is calculated either as 4% of the radio station’s gross revenue for the financial year or 2.5% of the Non-Refundable One Time Entry Fee (NOTEF) for the city, whichever is higher.
In May of last year, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry approached the regulator with a request for recommendations on two issues. One of the issues was whether to eliminate the link between the annual fee and the NOTEF in the formula set forth in the FM Phase III policy guidelines. The other matter was whether to extend the current 15-year FM license period by an additional three years.
TRAI has also solicited feedback on the issue of whether mobile handsets sold in India should be required to have an in-built FM radio receiver. The regulator was approached by industry players who pointed out that with the arrival of 4G handsets, many device manufacturers and operating systems (such as iOS and Android) are disabling FM tuners.
Stakeholders of the industry are invited by TRAI to submit written comments on the consultation paper by March 9th, 2023, with the option to submit counter comments by March 23rd, 2023. The regulator hopes to gather valuable input from stakeholders to form future guidelines related to the mentioned issues.
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