New Delhi: Setting up a news or entertainment television channel may soon cost several crores of rupees. In a bid to bring in extra revenue, ensure transparency and remove discretionary powers, the Narendra Modi government is planning to auction television channel frequencies on the lines of telecom spectrum, coal block and FM radio auctions.
The I&B ministry has sought suggestions from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India — which is also the regulatory body for the broadcasting sector in the country — regarding a change in process for allocation of news and entertainment television channels.
Sources said the move has been proposed in an effort to generate additional revenue for the government and could help it in removing possibilities of corruption. The move was also prompted after the I&B ministry received several applications seeking permission for establishing new television channels. By adopting the auction method, the government wants to generate additional revenue and also institute a single window system for establishing new television channels, sources added. The I&B ministry has also sought Trai’s suggestions on whether a single window system for establishing channels is permissble and under what conditions, the sources added.
Under the current process, an applicant needs to seek permission from the I&B ministry for setting up a new television channel. The current fee includes Rs 10,000 for uplinking and downlinking facilities and a Rs 2-lakh annual licence fee. The channel operators are also required to seek annual renewal for their operations. During the current process, a new applicant also has to seek security clearance from the Union home ministry. At present there are 391 news channels and 492 non-news television channels operational in the country. According to various estimates, the media and entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country.