| 04 Dec 2021
Law Ministry gives Maran-promoted Red FM network green nod; clearance awaited

MUMBAI: Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called in a joint meeting with three different ministries- Information and Broadcasting, Home Affairs and Law, to address the issues related to partial Phase III auction, which is at a standstill. However, there is no clarity on the time frame required to address the issue over denial of security clearance to Sun Group-owned Red FM, which is currently the reason Phase III is not moving forward.

Sources confirmed that the Law Ministry has given Home Affairs and I&B Ministry the green signal. However, Home Affairs is playing it safe, by taking it slow after receiving a lot of flak from the media due to recent controversies, a source told

If things continue as they are, then other private radio networks might pressurise the I&B Ministry to go ahead with the partial auction this time. The question here is not just about the auction, but about the very existence of Maran-promoted Sun TV, Suryan FM and Red FM.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting still maintains that auction will happen, but there is no set time frame. In the past, the Ministry was under the persistence of the PM to speed-up the auction; however, with all the controversies surrounding the BJP-led government, plans are to take the auction slow. Sources also added that the decision could have been made on Friday, when the Ministries met the PM, but it has been further delayed.

Recently, the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) had written to PM, seeking his intervention in the issue of Red FM in order to put an end to the delay. According to AROI, if Red FM is refused security clearance it could result in the closure of over 45 stations that are operated in the country. Following this, there would be loss of employment of a few thousand direct employees and complete erosion of wealth created by the brand.

The delay in auction will impact the migration of private FM stations from Phase II to Phase III, as migration can only take place after the auctions.