New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Sunday allowed Red FM to participate in the FM phase III auctions set to begin on Monday, quashing a notification by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry barring it from participating.

A bench comprising justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva affirmed that Red FM could participate in the upcoming auctions subject to the fulfilment of other conditions.

The I&B ministry rejected Red FM’s application on 15 July, saying it had not been cleared for security by the home ministry.

Red FM, the radio channel owned by Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, is one of the major bidders in the auction covering 165 stations in 69 cities.

“We are very happy with he decision of the honourable High Court. We are one of the largest radio networks and denying us an opportunity to participate in the auction would have been injustice. We are prepared for the auctions and are targeting eight FM stations which is the upper limit for us. We are going to aggressively bid for more frequencies to add to our 45 channels across India," said Nisha Narayanan, COO of Red FM

Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio City, the FM radio network of Entertainment Network India Limited, a Times Group company, said: “From what we gather, it is the final order and Red FM can participate in the auction without fear of being pulled out later. We have been waiting for more frequencies and the auctions for over four years. This is good news."

However, he added that more clarity is required on the implications of a Madras high court order that has given conditional approval to the Sun Group companies. “Yet we are looking forward to the auctions that begin at 9.30 am on Monday," Panday added.

Anurradha Prasad, president of the FM radio body Association of Radio Operators of India, said: “The court verdict today is good for the industry." Both the industry and the government want the auction, she added. Prasad is also the chairperson and managing director of BAG films and media Ltd which operates 10 FM stations under the Dhamaal 24 brand.

According to radio industry estimates, the government is expected to make 1500 crore from the fresh auctions and migration fee of radio operators. The detailed judgement giving the reasons for the decision is expected to be delivered later on Sunday or Monday.

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