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This Times Business newspaper clipping alleging loss in 5G auction is an edited one

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In the context of recently held auctions for 5G spectrum allocation in India, a Facebook post carrying an image of newspaper clipping is being widely shared. The headline of the article says, “₹2800000000000000- 5G spectrum auctions suffer a record loss of ₹2.8 lakh Cr”. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.

Claim: Times of India published an article with headline, “5G spectrum auctions suffer a record loss of ₹2.8 lakh Cr”.

Fact: The original newspaper article regarding the same issue has the headline- “5G spectrum auctions earn Centre record Rs 1.5 lakh crore”. It was published by Times of India in its Business Page on 02 August 2022. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE

We searched for the Times of India reports on the 5G spectrum allocations and came across this article published on its website on 02 August 2022. Taking the cue from this, we searched for the e-paper edition of the same date. After through the e-paper, we found that the news about the 5G spectrum allocations was published in “TIMES BUSINESS” page. But the headline reads, “5G spectrum auctions earn Centre record Rs 1.5 lakh crore” which is completely different from the headline shown in viral image.

The comparison of the two images can be seen below with the highlighted similarities:

By comparing the two images, it is evident that the headline in the viral news paper clipping is an edited one. Also, there is no mention of the 2.8 lakh crore losses in the original article. Moreover, the edited headline contradicts itself by writing 2.8 lakh crore in numbers as 2800000000000000, which should actually be 2800000000000.

Further investigation lead us to this article, where former Telecom minister A.Raja says, “The auction did not meet the expectation of up to ₹5 lakh crore, which was projected by the government. “But now the 5G has been auctioned for only ₹1.5 lakh crore. There is a huge scam in this”.

However, the minister of communications, Ashwini Vaishnaw condemned the remarks by clarifying that, of the total spectrum put on auction, the sold spectrum was valued at ₹1,50,173 crore and the unsold spectrum was valued at ₹2,81,432 crore. Spectrum bands of 600 MHz and 2300 MHz remained unsold entirely, and Mr. Vaishnaw said this was due to the weak ecosystem of mobile telephony in these segments. More about the spectrum allocations in India can be read here. The complete details of the 5G spectrum auctions can be found here.

To summarise, this Times Business newspaper clipping alleging loss in 5G auction is an edited one.

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