New Delhi : Even though Arun Jaitley is in favour of Sun TV Group, the combined force of MHA and PMO is in no mood to give-up in their stand against the Chennai based Media Group on the pending security clearance issues as the government on Wednesday excluded five companies owned by the Sun network from a list of 21 operators qualified to take part in the next stage of FM auctions.
Out of 28 applications received, an inter-ministerial panel comprising officials from finance and law ministries and departments of industrial policy and promotion and telecom rejected the five companies of Sun and two other operators who were denied permission on technical grounds. A notification naming the 21 eligible operators was issued on Wednesday.
On Tuesday Media reports stated that the government had decided to go ahead with the auctions without the Sun Group companies who have been denied security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs on account of pending investigations by CBI, Enforcement Directorate and other agencies.
Currently, Sun TV group runs 45 FM channels under the brand name Suryan FM in Tamil Nadu and Red FM in other cities.
The potential bidders will be briefed on 17th July by ministry officials and there will be a mock auction on 21st July. “The FM auctions will begin by the end of the month and since this is the first time an e-auction is being held for radio FM stations, there will be a lot of focus on training,” a senior official of the ministry said.
The auction process is likely to get over by September-end. However, all this is subject to any legal challenge that Sun may mount against its exclusion.
However, according to market sources and past precedents, It all depends on the legal course taken by Sun or others. If there is a stay on the process by any court, a delay can happen. In earlier case like SCV DAS licence, FM license of existing Radio operations, the Sun TV Group has approached the court and got a temporary reprieve and it is expected that they will be approaching the court to stay the auction process.
The MHA had also denied security clearance to 33 TV channels of the Sun Group in the first week of June after which the I&B ministry had sought the opinion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who had advised that the group be granted security clearance as MHA arguments were not tenable in a court of law. However, the MHA stood its ground, escalating the matter to the PMO, which appears to have come down on its side.