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TRAI recommends delinking NOTEF from FM Radio license fee

In its recommendations to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), the TRAI stated that the annual licence fee should be calculated at 4% of the Gross Revenue (GR), excluding GST, of the FM radio channel.

The authority noted that the current methodology of determining licence fees impinges on the business of the FM radio operators who are required to pay annual licence fees for a city at 4% of their annual gross revenue or 2.5% of the NOTEF, whichever is higher.

NOTEF is essentially a spectrum charge.

TRAI observed that more than 47% of the 384 radio channels are subjected to licence fee payment of over 4% when the licence fee is calculated based on NOTEF.

Further, 10% of radio stations have licence fee dues that are over 30% of their revenue.

In order to alleviate the challenges faced by the FM radio companies, the regulator has asked the government to offer an appropriate package or one-time policy initiative.

Among other recommendations, the TRAI has recommended that private FM radio operators should be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs programs for 10 minutes each clock hour.

Currently, only All India Radio (AIR) is allowed to broadcast news and private radio channels can air those bulletins in exactly the same format.

TRAI believes that the 10-minute cap will allow private radio channels to broadcast important news bulletins while at the same ensuring that they don’t misuse this privilege.

Once the private radio channels start broadcasting news, the programme code of conduct that is applicable to AIR for news content will also be applied to them.

The authority has also stated that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) should make it mandatory for mobile handset manufacturers to have built-in FM radio receiver functionality which should not be subjected to any form of disablement or deactivation.

TRAI has recommended that Meity form a Standing Committee, comprising MIB, the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), the Manufacturers’ Association of Information Technology (MAIT), and the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), to monitor the compliance of enabling the FM Radio funtionality in mobile.

The MIB has also been asked to set up an online grievance redressal portal for complaints related to FM radio functionality in mobile handsets. Business Telegraph

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