Govt defers FM bidding again, disappoints pvt players

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New Delhi, Jan 12: Much to the disappointment of prequalified bidders, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has again deferred the dates for submission of financial bids for 97 FM Radio Stations in 48 cities following the dismissal yesterday of the review petition filed by the government in this regard in Delhi High Court.

The bidding was scheduled for January 14 and 24. The next dates will be notified in due course, the Ministry said. This is the fourth time that bids had been postponed. Welcoming the court judgement, the Radio Operators Association of India said their stand that there should be more transparency in the tendering and greater level-playing field has been vindicated by the judgement.

The Government had invited bids for 97 vacant FM Channels on June 8 last year in 48 cities, including Dehradun, Imphal, Kohima, Port Blair and Sagar, which do not have any FM channel at present.

The Ministry said the minimum networth requirements had been prescribed under the terms and conditions of the tender for the companies to make them eligible to bid for various categories of cities.

The method of calculation of networth as prescribed in the tender conditions requires the applicants to deduct intangible assets amongst others from the book value of assets. On deduction of intangible assets, certain parties were not found eligible for submission of financial bids.

One such party, viz M/s Radio Today Broadcasting Limited filed a writ petition No. 9266/2007 in Delhi High Court on December 11 last year and challenged the deduction of one time entry fee already paid by them to the Government during the last phase of bidding from their networth.

The High Court in its order dated December 29, 2007 while upholding the method of calculation of networth adopted by the Government had, however, allowed the petitioner to make another bid after increasing the net worth and directed the Government to consider the same appropriately.

The Central Government filed a review petition as in the opinion of the Government, the opportunity for increasing networth could have been given till the last date of submission of the pre-qualification bids i.e. up to July 23, 2007 and not thereafter as per the terms and conditions of tender.

In this regard, the Government is exploring further legal options, the Ministry said.


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