Saturday, November 26, 2005

Germany's DW looking for partners for radio, TV

Press Trust of IndiaNew Delhi, November 25, 2005
Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has said it wasinterested in entering the television and FM radio space in India, though itwas wary about the restrictions on news and current affairs programmes forforeign broadcasters."India is an important country and we are looking for partnerships here," DW Director-General Erik Bettermann said.He said DW, which had revenues of about 300 million Euros last year, wasopen to making investments in the Indian market, in case right opportunitiesand partners came its way.Among others, Bettermann held meetings with top officials of publicbroadcasters All-India Radio and DD during his visit to the nationalcapital, and welcomed the government's decision to allow foreign directinvestment in FM radio.He, however, expressed reservations over some of the restrictions on foreignbroadcasters in respect of news and current affairs programmes. "Free pressis a pre-condition for democracy... Open the sector for foreignbroadcasters. It is the trend worldwide," he said.While the government has disallowed news and current affairs programming inprivate FM radio, foreign TV news broadcasters like BBC and CNN cannot haveprogramming and advertising specifically designed for Indian audience.DW, which transmits multilingual feed over its network including in Hindi,offers 29 radio channels apart from its TV channels. It is mandated bypublic law and funded by the federal government.The German network, whose programming ranges from news, features, sports andbackgrounders, may look for a content tie-up with an Indian radio partnerand offer programmes on sports, culture and lifestyle.Thomas Barthlein, a senior official of DW, said that the broadcaster wasalso speaking to direct-to-home (DTH) service providers in India like Zeeand Prasar Bharati for making their TV channels available on their platform.This was apart from the efforts on the FM radio side, he said.After the liberalisation in the FM sector, which included shifting to arevenue share regime and allowing 20 per cent FDI, the market has seeninterest from a variety of broadcasters.BBC is believed to have filed an application with the Foreign InvestmentPromotion Board for a 20 per cent stake in a radio company while others likeUKs Virgin group are also keen on a radio foray.,00020020.htm

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BBC tunes in to FM radio

OUR BUREAUMumbai, Nov. 21:
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of Britain's publicservice broadcaster, has filed an application with the Foreign InvestmentPromotion Board (FIPB) seeking permission to establish and operate an FMradio station in Mumbai.The application was filed on November 14, just three days before thegovernment cleared a proposal permitting 20 per cent foreign investment inthe FM radio business.The rider attached is that the 20 per cent cap will include foreign directinvestment (FDI), investments by non-resident Indians and persons of Indianorigin (PIOs) and portfolio investment.Until now, foreign investment of up to 20 per cent was permitted in radiounder the Portfolio Investment Schemes under the Foreign Exchange Management(Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India)Regulations, 2000 while FDI was not permitted.The rules have now been changed in the light of a changed scenario even asthe government prepares to launch the second phase of the FM radiobroadcasting services.BBC Worldwide hasn't said in its application who it intends to partner inthe FM radio business.Last December, BBC Worldwide signed an arrangement with Bennett and ColemanLtd, publishers of Times of India and Economic Times, to publish the 29magazines in the Times' stable, including Femina and Shipping Times through a 50:50 venture called Worldwide Media.The Times group has a FM radio venture called Radio Mirchi, which operatesin seven cities, including Mumbai and Calcutta.However, it is not known whether BBC Worldwide will pick up a stake in theventure or find another partner.Radio Mirchi is planning to come out with an initial public offering, whichwill be the first by a FM station. It has already filed a red herringprospectus with the Sebi.The company plans to offer 12 million shares with a face value of Rs 10 eachat a premium to be decided through a book-building process. The book-runninglead managers to the issue are JM Morgan Stanley Ltd and Enam FinancialConsultants Pvt Ltd.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

AIRs 24X7 Music Channel from Trichy and Lucknow

Hyderabad November 13, 2005 1:36:03 AM IST]
A 24-hour channel in Hindustani and Carnatic Music will be launched shortlyby All India Radio (AIR), which also plans concerts at prominent open publicplaces to popularise classical music in the country.Lucknow for Hindustani classical and Trichy for Carnatic music would be thehub of the 24X7 music channels, which would be launched ''anytime'', AIRDeputy Director General (South Zone) G Jayalal told the media here today.AIR, in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, proposed tohold classical music concerts at public gardens and prominent open spaces,for which the Prasar Bharati (PB) Board had given its consent recently.Flanked by Hyderabad Station Director Dr Gopalakrishna and Programmer MsVedavathi, AIR's Southern Chief said Archives (South) would release onNovember 13 Audio Cassettes and Audio Compact Discs of four popular Teluguplays. The plays - ''Kanyasulkam'', the all time socially relevant play byGurajada Appa Rao, ''Varavikrayam'', another play on dowry written byKallakuri Narayan Rao, ''Ganapathi'' rated as the best literary comedy byChilakamarthi Laxminarasimham Panthulu and ''Pandavudyoga Vijayalu'', pennedby Tirupathi Venkata Kavulu - would be released on the occasion of''Broadcasting Day''.Union Information Minister S Jaipal Reddy and K S Sarma, the CEO of PB,would be present on the occasion.The event would be recorded due to the national mourning and relayed byAkashvani Centres from December 17 to January 23, 2006.

Second phase of FM radio starts rolling

Nivedita MookerjiFriday, November 11, 2005 22:51 ISTNEW DELHI:
Over 100 applications have been made to the government, seekingentry to the second phase of private FM radio service.Among those who have submitted their pre-qualification bids, include MusicBroadcast Private Ltd (MBPL), Bennett Coleman, Hindustan Times, Bhaskargroup, Jagran group and Reliance, among others. The deadline for submittingpre-qualification bids was Friday.While only 42 applications had come in till Thursday, the rest weresubmitted on Friday. The government has thrown open the second phase of FMradio for 338 frequencies (radio stations) across 91 cities.Technical evaluation of these bids, including security clearances from thehome ministry, will take around two months, it is learnt.Financial bids have to be submitted in January. While the last date forfinancial bids for the 'A plus' and 'A' category cities (big cities acrossthe country) is January 6, for cities and towns in the north, the deadlineis January 13. For eastern Indian cities and towns, the deadline is January20, for western cities, it is January 27, and for the south, it is February3.Every applicant and related entities must bid for only one channel per city,as per the tender document.Also, channels allocated to an applicant and related entities should notexceed 15% of the total number of channels in India. Subsidiaries ofapplicants in the same city will be disqualified, and so will be the holdingcompany of the applicant company in the same city.Foreign investment will be restricted to 20% of the paid-up equity of thecompany. Also, one Indian entity must hold more than 50%, excluding theequity held by scheduled banks and other public financial institutions. Alldirectors on board must be Indians, as per the tender. Even all the keyexecutive officers of the applicant entity must be resident Indians.Financial bids will have a one-time entry fee, deposit of an amountequivalent of 50% of financial bid, and performance bank guarantee in favourof the I&B ministry equivalent to 50% of financial bid. To apply for allcategories of cities, a company must have a net worth of Rs 10 crore, for Aplus and A class cities Rs 3 crore, for B category, Rs 2 crore; for C class,Rs 1 crore; and for D class, Rs 50 lakh.Making a shift from a licence era to revenue-sharing, the government hasspecified the annual revenue share at 4% or 10% of the reserveone-time-entry-fee (OTEF) for a city, whichever is higher. Annual fee willbe paid on quarterly basis.While FM bidders must operationalise within 18 months of issue of LoI, theymay need to opt out in case of delay. But, the tender has stated, "in theevent of default in operationalisation of a channel being attribuateble todelay beyond reasonable period by Becil/Prasar Bharati, WPC, the prescribedtime limit will be extended." Co-location on Prasar Bharati towers ismandatory for FM companies, and Becil, a PSU under the I&B ministry, willintegrate the infrastructure for radio operations.As for content, news and current affairs will not be allowed, and 50% ofprogramming on a channel must be produced in India, according to the FMtender.The first phase of FM radio privatisation took off five years ago.

New FM Channels in Ranchi & Jamshedpur

NAVTAN KUMAR Ranchi, Nov. 9:
Good news for the people of Ranchi and Jamshedpur: the All India Radio (AIR) has decided to give four FM channels, to be run by private agencies, to each of the cities. Official sources said the Union ministry of information and broadcasting has invited tenders, the last date for which was November 7. Three parties have applied and a decision will be taken soon, added sources.
The tenders were floated as part of the Union ministry's massive expansion plan of the FM radio broadcasting services. According to the plan, the government intends to allocate 338 channels to private parties in 91 cities across the country. The operations will, however, be restricted to entertainment-based programmes. The four channels will be in addition to the existing FM channel (103.3 MHz) in Ranchi, which mainly broadcasts Vividh Bharati programmes.
An official said: "The expansion plan was mooted after the Prasar Bharati decided radio culture is on the revival path in India. FMs are popular and have become a part of life in the bigger cities. They air melodious songs and also provide local information, trains, bus or flights timings, forecasts weather, traffic situation and other such things"
So far, FM is yet to hit Jharkhand "in the true sense", he pointed out, as only limited time is allotted for local stations. However, the official noted, the audience research wing is trying to make the existing slots more lively and entertaining.
"We have already introduced programmes on the existing FM channel. We are also in the process of selecting good anchors. Our main target is young people in the age group of 18 to 35," the official pointed out. Sources said Firayalal - a famous departmental store in the capital - and Radio Sheetal has applied for the Ranchi tenders.
Interestingly, the ministry had invited tenders two years ago, but did not get any response.