FM Radio Broadcasting: TRAI Recommendations

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the recommendations sought by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) vide its reference dated May 11, 2022, under Section 11(1)(a) of the TRAI Act, 1997, on “Issues related to FM Radio Broadcasting”. 

The recommendations were sought pertaining to the removal of linkage to Non-Refundable One Time Entry Fee (NOTEF) in the formula for annual fees as prescribed in the FM Ph III Policy Guidelines dated July 25, 2011. The other issue was concerning the extension of the FM license period (currently, the period is 15 years) by 3 years.

TRAI has played a pivotal role in India’s FM radio broadcasting. It has provided recommendations regarding migration fees, facilitated e-auctions for Phase-III channels, and proposed reserve prices for new cities. MIB also sought TRAI’s input on formula changes for annual fees and extending FM license periods. AROI’s concerns were addressed through meetings and a Consultation Paper. After thorough deliberation and stakeholder engagement, TRAI finalised crucial recommendations, shaping the trajectory of FM radio broadcasting in India as of June 2023. Additionally, TRAI held discussions with representatives of the Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) on August 5, 2022, and issued a consultation paper on FM Radio Broadcasting issues on February 9, 2023, followed by an Open House Discussion on April 26, 2023, to gather further stakeholder input.

After considering all comments and conducting further analysis, TRAI finalised its recommendations which are listed below: –

  • Separating the annual license fee from NOTEF.
  • Calculating the fee as 4% of Gross Revenue (GR), excluding GST.
  • Supporting FM radio operators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Allowing private FM channels to air news for 10 minutes per hour with a code of conduct.
  • Ensuring FM radio stays active on mobiles with hardware.
  • Establishing a Compliance Committee for mobile manufacturers.
  • Creating an online portal for reporting FM radio functionality issues.