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NEW DELHI : The government may host the third round of spectrum auction for the frequency modulation (FM) radio industry “within the next six to eight months", and a policy decision on promoting digital radio in the country could be taken by then, said Apurva Chandra, information and broadcasting secretary.

“The I&B ministry is working with industry stakeholders, including private radio players, auto and phone manufacturers to understand and enable the scope of adopting digital radio services in India, which can help advertisers and revive revenues for radio operators in India," Chandra said in an interview on the sidelines of an event organized by the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).

On Thursday, the ICEA, in partnership with consulting firm EY India published a report, titled ‘Digital Radio Broadcast in India’. According to the report, while the Indian radio industry clocked annual revenues of $390.7 million in 2019, the impact of the pandemic saw the industry’s ad-driven revenues more than halve to $176.4 million in 2020. By the end of this calendar year, revenue could grow to $226.9 million.

ICEA and EY expect radio revenues to grow to $327.7 million by 2026, based on its current trajectory of analog FM radio broadcasts. However, this would still be below pre-pandemic levels. With greater adoption of digital radio, the industry could clock up to $756 million in revenues by 2026, a more than twofold jump from its expected revenue trajectory.

Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman, ICEA, said, at the launch of the report, that adopting digital radio is not a cost intensive task for broadcasters. “The industry needs a push to bring in receivers that are compatible with digital radio transmissions. The mobile phone industry could play a major role in this, and a starting point of around 50 million devices for digital radio broadcasters to target could be viable," he added.

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