Entertainment Industry demands flexibility in FM Radio business

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New Delhi, Dec 20 (UNI) The Entertainment industry today came out with its vision for the growth of the FM Radio, urging the Government to allow news and current affairs programmes on the platform, permit transfer and trade of licence and fix a reasonable and appropriate fee for music royalty.

It also demanded FDI norms for FM Radio a par with Satellite Radio.

''The government must allow the FM industry the freedom and flexibility that a business needs,'' the Radio Forum of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry(FICCI) said in a memorandum to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Stating that the lack of diversity in content in FM channels, which were dishing out Bollywood-centric music, bereft of other forms of entertainment and news and current affairs pogrammes, was leading to disenchantment among audiences, it said it was high time that the Government had a relook at its policy Pointing out that private radio was the only mass medium not offering news and current affairs while TV and Internet service providers were allowed to broadcast news, it suggested that six to eight minutes per hour of news and current affairs be broadcast on FM radio under 'general entertainment' license.

It would help fulfill all the three objectives of the Government viz, FM broadcasting for entertainment, education and information; to make available quality programmes with a localized flavour and to supplement the services of All India Radio (AIR).

The Radio Forum also demanded transferability&tradability of licences, arguing that this would ensure that there was an exit route for a company in case it faced losses, and also ensure that there was no administrative and financial burden on the Government to keep periodically auctioning the same license during the tenure of licence.

It also called for allowing automatic renewal of licenses at the end of the initial term of the licenses as was done earlier and is the international norm.

The Forum urged the Government to settle the issue of royalty as soon as possible.

It said there was a serious view that radio broadcasters need to pay royalties only to PPL which represents the interests of the music companies and not to IPRS which represents the music composers, lyricists and other artists.

''However, the reality is that both bodies are being extremely demanding and un-flexible in the terms they are setting for radio broadcasters. In the past, the two bodies have demanded as much as Rs 3000 per needle hour from all broadcasters or 30 per cent of their revenues, whichever is higher. They are not willing to have different rates for small and big cities, or for small and big stations,'' the memorandum said.

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