Govt may move SC over FM radio firm`s re-bid

The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry plans to move the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court cancelled its review petition over the method used to calculate the networth of the bidders for 97 FM radio stations across 48 cities.
Twenty-seven eligible companies could not bid after Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd (not found eligible) went to the Delhi High Court challenging the calculation to arrive at the networth. The court upheld the ministry’s method but asked it to give Radio Today a chance to submit a revised networth.
Ministry officials said if this was granted, every company found ineligible on the networth criteria would seek more time to prove its eligibility, harming the process.
“Our case holds ground as it is based on laid-down rules and guidelines. We will file our petition in the Supreme Court this week and hope that the bidding for the 97 vacant FM radio frequencies goes on without any need to start the process again,” said a senior I&B official.
This case, according to officials, is important for all future FM radio bids as it pertains to eligibility norms. Around 700 FM stations are proposed to be launched soon.
The norms prescribe minimum networth for various categories of cities. The method requires the bidders to deduct intangible assets, among others, from the book value of their assets.
It was the deduction of intangible assets that made some companies ineligible for the financial bids. One such company, Radio Today, filed a writ petition in the high court and challenged the deduction of one-time entry fee paid by it to the government during the previous bidding. The high court, upholding the method, allowed the company to bid again on the basis of increased networth.
The central government filed a review petition believing the chance to increase the networth could have been given only till the last date of submission of the pre-qualification bids, that is, up to July 23, 2007.
But this was somehow overlooked by the Delhi High Court and it passed an order cancelling our review petition. We will present our case before the Supreme Court,” said a senior I&B official.


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