Next round of Commercial FM auctions may be delayed | radioinfo

Next round of Commercial FM auctions may be delayed

Friday 18 April, 2003

After some behind the scenes lobbying the ABA is wondering whether it should delay its planned next round of FM licence auctions.

The ABA's move follows "approaches by a number of interested parties, some concerned that it proceed, others concerned that it should not proceed or that it should delay."

The ABA will now seek submissions on whether to "defer the availability of spectrum for further commercial FM radio licences in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane."

The ABA has planned commercial FM radio licences in the Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane markets that have yet to be allocated. The timing of these allocations was set out at the time of the relevant licence area plans in order to provide certainty to the industry and the marketplace.

Therefore, the ABA "will only be minded to consider deferring the availability of spectrum for these commercial radio licences if there has been a significant change in market circumstances since the determination of the relevant licence area plan."

The proposed tentative timeframes for auctions are:

Adelaide (91.9FM) October 2003

Sydney (95.3FM) April 2004

Brisbane (106.9FM) April 2004

Melbourne (91.5FM) August 2004

The crucial question, as the ABA sees it, is "whether circumstances in the market (or similar markets) since the timing decision have changed in some major way such that proceeding with the allocation now would fail to promote the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, including the economic and efficient allocation of spectrum."

In looking at this question, the ABA will look at each licence area as a separate and distinct market. DMG CEO Paul Thompson opposes any delay, while Austereo and ARN argue that market conditions have changed and a delay is warranted.

Submissions are due by close of business, Friday 9 May 2003.

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