A single-handed decision by the Information and Communication Minister has allowed Kantipur to establish a 1000-watt FM station at Bhedetar, Dhankuta. According to sources, the minister granted the licence on the basis of a week-old-application, and it took him just five minutes to decide it on 10 August.
There are 21 other applicants seeking FM licences. The applications submitted by different NGO, DDCs and VDCs have been pending for no reason since 1998. In all, 12 FMs have been licensed since the government came up with a Communication Policy. Of these, the licence of Birat FM has been cancelled while the other 11 are operational. In Kathmandu Valley, other than Radio Nepal the only FM broadcasting at 1000 watts is Kantipur FM. Other stations say they have not been given permission to increase their transmitter capacity. According to Radio Sagarmatha, its application to upgrade its transmitter from 100W to 500W has been pending for over a year and a half. Likewise, the minister has not renewed its licence that was submitted last month.
The sudden decision by the Communication Minister has led to the repeat of an earlier effort by the Times of India group to seek a licence and which had been rejected by Minister Radha Krishna Mainali. After BJP minister Sushma Swaraj cancelled the TOI\'s permission saying that it was spreading western culture, the company moved on to Bangladesh. It has come to Nepal after it was unable to get permission there either. It was planning to set up a station in Biratnagar.