Home >politics >policy >CCI orders probe against Prasar Bharati in 2016 FM radio licensing row

New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a detailed investigation against public broadcaster Prasar Bharati for alleged abuse of dominance with respect to draft FM radio licensing agreement.

Finding prima facie evidence of violation of competition norms, the regulator has asked the Director General (DG), its investigation arm, to carry out a detailed probe.

A senior official at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said it would study the CCI order. Prasar Bharati comes under the administrative control of the ministry.

The matter pertains to alleged unfair business practices with regard to Phase III FM Radio Policy. The complaint was filed in 2016 by Mumbai-based Next Radio Ltd, which provides FM radio broadcasting services.

In a 14-page order, the regulator observed that no opportunity was accorded to Next Radio to negotiate the terms of the draft agreement with regard to Phase III FM Radio Policy.

As per the draft agreement, Next Radio was offered the cities of Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bengaluru for operating FM radio services. It was alleged that various clauses of the draft agreement proposed by Prasar Bharati for Phase III FM Radio Policy were unfair and discriminatory.

The CCI noted that several clauses of the draft agreement prima facie appear to be one-sided and heavily tilted in favour of Prasar Bharati. The clauses include those pertaining to increase in licence fee.

For the case, the CCI considered ‘market for provision of infrastructure facilities for FM radio broadcasting’ in the six cities as the relevant one.

“The Commission is of the view that by imposing... one- sided unfair terms and conditions on the informant (Next Radio) and other private FM radio broadcasters through the draft agreement Phase III FM Radio Policy, Opposite Party 1 (Prasar Bharati) prima facie abused its position of dominance in the relevant market in contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the (Competition) Act," CCI said.

Section 4 pertains to abuse of dominant position. During the course of investigation, if involvement of any other party or parties is found, the DG should probe the conduct of “such other party or parties who may have indulged in the said contravention", the order, dated 4 July and made public today, said.

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