Anurag K Sason
Deputy News Editor,
India TV

Government Plans To Cover All States And Six UTs In FM Radio Phase-III

When it comes to technological innovations, the radio sector is not alienated from it. The government is also providing full support to it. The centre is planning to spread the radio as a means of communication in every nook and corner of the country.

The phase-III of the FM radio will complete the coverage of private FM radio broadcasting across all states and six union territories of India. In December 2017, for the e-auction of the third batch of the private FM radio phase-III, the union cabinet gave its nod. The auctions are expected to generate revenues of more than Rs 1100 crore and 10,000 jobs, said the government. The cabinet, according to reports, approved conducting of the auction of 683 radio frequencies in 236 cities in subsequent batches, which will help expand the presence of FM radio in more cities.

The first batch of auctions of private FM radio stations under phase-III of the FM policy guidelines was conducted in 2015. Second batch auctions were conducted in 2016. In batch-I, 97 channels in 56 cities were sold. In batch-II, in 48 cities, 66 channels were sold. The green signal is also for the border areas of the northeastern states and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Across the country, a large number of cities that have no private FM radio channels will be benefited after the complete rollout of the third batch of auctions of FM phase-III, the government said in a statement. Several cities in border areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast states, where the population is less than one lakh, will also be benefitted.

After the complete rollout of FM phase-III auctions, all the 29 states and six out of the seven UTs (except Dadra and Nagar Haveli) of the country will be covered by private FM radio broadcasting.

On a pan-India basis, this is also likely to generate direct and indirect employment for more than 10,000 people, the statement added. As part of its efforts to encourage more and more local entrepreneurs to participate in the e-auction of the third batch of private FM radio frequencies under FM radio phase-III policy, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) is engaging with national and regional industry bodies.

Former I&B minister Smriti Irani had said that the centre was engaging with various stakeholders on how to ensure more and more people bid for local FM radio frequencies. The challenge of engaging stakeholders is even more in smaller towns. It is pertinent to mention here that in the past, the bidders had been very limited.

The government has reached out to industry bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and stakeholders in the local industry bodies in this regard as it wants more and more local entrepreneurs to bid for these FM radio frequencies. As part of the preparations for the e-auction, the ministry is learned to be testing the infrastructure, including security checks. To oversee the e-auction of the subsequent batches of private FM radio channels, the ministry will also appoint independent external monitors.

The Government of India had earlier said that the rollout of the third batch of auctions will help expand the FM radio coverage to new cities. It will also provide a better choice of content to radio listeners. The batch-III auctions are expected to be conducted sometime in near future.

Benefits of FM radio

Frequency Modulation (FM) is widely used because of its many advantages. It is resilient to noise. As most noise is amplitude based, this can be removed by running the signal through a limiter so that only frequency variations appear. It is resilient to signal strength variations. In other words, signal level variations do not affect FM to a great extent and hence it makes it ideal for use in mobile applications where signal levels constantly change. In the transmitter, FM does not require linear amplifiers. It is less prone to interference than Amplitude Modulation (AM). Its wavelength is short whereas the frequency is high and vice versa for AM.

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