New Delhi, Dec 28 (UNI) The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting today postponed for the third time the financial biddings for the remaining 97 FM radio stations of the second phase which was to be held today and on January 7, giving rise to speculation in the industry that the government wanted to club these auctions with those for the third phase.
Association of Radio Operators for India expressed disappointment over the postponement, saying the delays were not good for the industry.
''Tender process should be transparent, and there should be no more changes once tenders have been invited. In fact there should be a prebid conference in which all conditions should be stated finally and clearly,'' Secretary General of the Association, Udai Chawla said.
The biddings would now be held on January 14 and 24. The auctions had to be deferred to sort out the networth and One time fees issue, an official told UNI.
The Radio Operators Body was of the view that OTF should be included in computing the networth.
The 97 radio stations were spread across 48 cities. As many as 27 companies have been shortlisted for the bidding.
Earlier, the bidding was to take place on November 12 and November 26 but was cancelled just five-days before the date.
The 97 stations involved in the coming biddings were left out after the last year's bidding for 337 FM stations in the second phase of the expansion of FM radio, out of which licences were awarded for 266. Those biddings had generated a revenue of Rs 1,537 crore from the licence fee paid by 30 companies.
The present round of bidding is expected to generate about Rs 350 crore. The major players in this round include Entertainment Network India Ltd (Radio Mirchi), South Asia FM (Sun TV), Reliance Unicom (Big 92.7 FM).
There are also some big regional players like Rajasthan Patrika Pvt Ltd, Ananda Offset Private Ltd, Shri Puran Multimedia Ltd (Dainik Jagran) and Synergy Media Entertainment (Dainik Bhaskar group).