New Delhi: FM radio services would now spread to 294 cities across the country with the government on Wednesday approving a proposal which will involve private agencies. The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the auction of 839 channels in 294 cities to be awarded through ascending e-auction through private agencies.
It decided that the authority to make any other minor change in Request for Proposals would be delegated to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
"The additional channels that may become available due to reduced channels spacing to 400 KHz could be considered subsequently after feasibility studies are completed," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting.
FM radio operators keen on migrating from Phase-II to Phase-III will have to pay a migration fee which would be decided after consultation with TRAI. Government is also planning to prioritise expansion of FM radio in border areas and in the northeastern states.
On monitoring radio broadcasts, I&B Minister Manish Tewari said FM operators in border areas would have to preserve recordings for three months, which could be referred to whenever a complaint is received.
839 new FM radio channels are expected to be auctioned in 2013-14 after which cities with over one lakh population will be covered by private FM radio services. Presently 86 cities are covered by FM radio stations.
Earlier, an Empowered Group of Ministers on spectrum headed by Chidambaram had recommendations on the amendments to the policy guidelines for expansion of FM radio broadcasting services.