Chennai : Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL)that owns Radio Mirchi FM Stations all over India has filed a petition asking the Madras High Court to direct the ministry of information and broadcasting to postpone Phase III auctions for FM channels.
The petition was filed in response to an interim order passed by the court allowing Sun TV’s FM channels to participate in the auctions while its petition was awaiting a decision. the company said it had no objection to the participation of Sun TV companies in the auctions, but only to their conditional participation.
The Court adjourned the matter to August, while directing Sun TV to file a counter.
Earlier Sun Group’s 45 radio channels were not allowed to participate in auction due to lack of security clearance from Union Home Ministry. However, Sun TV and its subsidiaries approached the Court and sought relief.
On Thursday, the Court granted an interim relief to Sun TV, KAL Radio and South Asian FM and allowed them to participate in the auction, while directing that the result of the auctions may be kept in a sealed cover and produced before the Court.
Today, ENIL filed a petition saying ENIL and other bidders are likely to face-grave and irreparable injury in case the auctions are allowed to be held with a conditional participation of the Sun TV and its companies.
“We have no objection the participation of the petitioner (Sun Group & companies) in the auctions, but only to their conditional participation, subject to a final verdict of the court. It is the conditional nature of participation that causes harm to the applicant, not the participation per se,” said in the petition.
ENIL explained that in the event the e-auction process necessarily entails that each broadcaster shall have a separate computer terminal where it can follow its own progress on whether or not it has won the auction for a particular city or not. Hence, to the extent, the result is already public and no useful purpose would be served by keeping the results in the sealed cover.
Unless the MIB extends the permission of broadcasters whose licenses are slated to expire on 30th September 2015, they may be forced to go off-air. “This will be a compounded and useless exercise in case the bidding has to be held all over again if the present writ petitions fail and finally the entire process of auctions shall have to be carried out all over again, thereby resulting in wastage of time and resources of the bidders as well as the Government”.
ENIL said bidders would already have exposed their strategies in the cancelled auctions. Hence they will enter the re-auction with strategies known to each other, thus affecting the outcomes in ways unknown.
ENL claimed if Sun Group companies are allowed to participate conditionally, industry will suffer huge loss like what happened in the Phase 1 of radio policy. If they were not participating, then the bidding intensity would be lower. Hence it is possible that the national auctions for all 69 cities would close earlier, and at lower levels.
The higher intensity, if unjustified because of denial of Petitioners, at the time of disposal of these writ petitioner, would lead other broadcasters to pay much more.
ENIL sought Court’s permission to intervene in the present matter and present its submissions to the Court, considering it would have a direct impact on the order passed in the petition filed by Sun TV and its companies, the company also sought interim relief that the auctions may be held only after conclusion of final hearing in the present matter and that such final hearing of the matter may be expedited, since the extensions given to licenses of all phase-II players, including the applicant herein shall expire in September 2015.
“Auctions scheduled for July 27, 2015 may be postponed enabling this court to hear this matter finally and order auctions to take place without any conditionality,” the company prayed in the petition.