| 16 Jun 2024
Challenge to methodology of FM Migration Fee to be heard by TDSAT, last date for payment extended to tomorrow

NEW DELHI: The vacation bench of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), today, extended till tomorrow the deadline for payment of the balance of the non-refundable One Time Migration Fee (NOTMF) for migrating from Phase II to Phase III of Radio FM.

The vacation bench of Chairman Justice Aftab Alam and member Kuldip Singh, who gave the interim direction after preliminary hearing, are expected to hear tomorrow the petition by the Association of Radio Operators in India (AROI) challenging the criteria for NOTMF for migrating from Phase II to Phase III of Radio FM.

The primary plea of AROI is that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B Ministry) is charging a very high fee for smaller cities for NOMTNF.

Meanwhile in a letter to I & B Secretary, Sunil Arora, yesterday, TRAI Secretary Sudhir Gupta rejected the plea of AROI in this regard with regard to ten cities for which no bids had come in the recent e-auctions.

Gupta said the AROI had in its representation “assumed zero percent increase in reserve prices for 10 group Z cities where auction was unsuccessful as no bids were received. This assumption of AROI is not tenable as the final prices for allocation of channels in such cities have not been determined.”

He said AROI had indicated another two concerns in respect of calculation of NOTMF by the Ministry. In the first case wherein example of Shimla is given by AROI, the methodology followed by the I&B Ministry is in line with TRAI's recommendations of 20 February 2014, as this has been explained in an example given in a table of TRAI's recommendations on ‘Migration of FM Radio Broadcasters from Phase-11 to Phase-III’ dated 20 February 2014.

Accordingly, the request of AROI for review of NOTMF on this ground is not acceptable, Gupta said.

The letter was in response to a letter from the Ministry on 8 October wherein the Ministry has sought TRAI's comments on the methodology used by the I&B Ministry for calculation of NOTMF for existing cities and to confirm whether MIB has done calculation of city wise NOTMF in accordance with TRAI's recommendations of 20 February2014.

Gupta said TRAI had examined the methodology of calculation of NOTMF followed by the Ministry for group X, Y and Z cities. “The methodology followed by the Ministry for calculation of NOTMF is in accordance with TRAI's recommendations dated 20 February 2014.”

However, Gupta said, “TRAI has neither verified the arithmetic accuracy of city-wise NOTMF calculated by MIB nor looked into the city-wise prices determined through the auction process.”