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Shifting of frequencies: Radio Mid-Day moves SC against tribunal ruling

Tariq Engineer

Frequency war
Radio Mid-Day told to shift from 92.5 to 94.5 by Monday
It claims frequency is part of its identity

Mumbai , Oct. 27

Radio Mid-Day West (India) Ltd said it has filed a petition in the Supreme Court last Friday appealing the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal's (TDSAT) judgment requiring that its radio station shift its broadcast frequency from 92.5 FM to 94.3 FM in Mumbai.

The petition is yet to come up for hearing, the Courts being on holiday.

TDSAT's decision, which was handed to Radio Mid-Day last Thursday, had asked the latter to shift frequencies by Monday.

"We will fight this in the Supreme Court," said the Radio Mid-Day Chief Financial Officer, Mr Manajit Ghosal. "It is unfair that they are making us shift frequencies."

TDSAT's decision is the result of an appeal filed by Radio Mid-Day in September against a government notification issued in June, ordering that Radio Mid-Day shift frequencies.

The issue was further complicated by the granting of the 92.7 FM frequency to Adlabs Film Ltd across 45 cities for their Big Radio brand. Regulatory norms require 0.7 or 0.8 MHz between bandwidths. That meant one of the two operators would have to relinquish its allotted frequency. Ms Seema Dubey, Adlabs Vice-President Legal & Secretarial, said in an e-mail that Big Radio's position was that "TDSAT had decided the case dismissing Radio Mid-Day's petition."

In the petition, Radio Mid-Day challenged the original notification on three grounds. The station claimed that its frequency was part of its identity; that it had acquired "right over" the frequency which cannot be disturbed; and that the Government could only force it to change frequencies in the public or national interest as per clause 11 of the License Agreement with the Department of Telecommunications.

The Government responded by claiming that since Radio Mid-Day had changed its station's name from Go92.5FM to Radio One (1), the frequency was not part of the brand name and, therefore, could be changed.

It also argued that in Phase II of the expansion of radio broadcasting services, 92.5 FM is no longer offered as a frequency. Hence Radio Mid-Day would have to shift frequencies in any case.

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