The Government of India has approved 18 new FM radio channels in the eight North-Eastern States and 15 new FM Radio Channels in Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the 15 new channels in J&K 3 each will be located in Kathua, Bhaderwah, Leh, Kargil and Poonch, while in the North-East 3 channels each will be launched in the towns of Halong and Dhubri in Assam, Jowai in Meghalaya, Mokokchung in Nagaland, Lunglei in Mizoram and Belonia in Tripura, in addition to the 12 pre existing FM channels.

These channels will however not be permitted to put out their own news broadcasts and in case there is news to be broadcast, it should be taken from All India Radio (Akashvani).

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Dr Jitendra Singh mentioned that the cutoff population required for introducing FM channels has been reduced in the case of border areas. He also said in FM radio Phase-II expansion, the cutoff population was a minimum of 3 lakh and in Phase-III its proposed to be 1 lakh. However in the case of these 33 channels to be launched in border cities in the North-East and J&K, the population cutoff has been further reduced.

The FM radio Phase III expansion got a push from the government last week, as it cleared a proposal for e-auctions and migration of Private FM Radio licenses from Phase-II to Phase-III in 69 existing cities for 135 channels. The proposed auction process will add an estimated revenue of over Rs 550 crore, on successful auctions of all proposed channels.

The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry had previously sought clearance from the Election Commission for e-auction of FM radio stations under phase III. The auction would open up 839 FM channels across 294 cities, expanding from 86 cities at present.