I&B min deferres bidding for radio stations

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has yet again deferred the dates for submission of financial bids for 97 FM radio stations in 48 cities.

The next dates shall be notified in due course. This follows the dismissal of review petition filed by the government in this regard in Delhi High Court, today. The bidding was scheduled for 14 and 24 January, 2008.

The government invited bids for 97 vacant FM channels on 8 June, 2007 in 48 cities including Dehradun, Imphal, Kohima, Port Blair and Sagar, which do not have any FM channel at present.

Minimum networth requirements have been prescribed under the terms and conditions of the tender for the companies to make them eligible to bid for various categories of cities. The method of calculation of networth as prescribed in the tender conditions requires the applicants to deduct intangible assets amongst others from the book value of assets. On deduction of intangible assets, certain parties were not found eligible for submission of financial bids.

One such party – Radio Today Broadcasting Limited – filed a writ petition No. 9266/2007 in the Delhi High Court on 11 December, 2007 and challenged the deduction of one time entry fee already paid by them to the government during the last phase of bidding from their networth.

The Court in its order dated 20 December, 2007 while upholding the method of calculation of networth adopted by the government has, however, allowed the petitioner to make another bid after increasing the net worth and directed the Government to consider the same appropriately.

The central government filed a review petition as in the opinion of the government, the opportunity for increasing networth could have been given till the last date of submission of the pre-qualification bids i.e. up to 23 July, 2007 and not thereafter as per the terms and conditions of tender.

In this regard, the government is exploring further legal options.