India eases limitation on news channel ownership

By agencies   |   Friday, 21 October 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India has relaxed limitations on foreign ownership in its fast-growing media industry in an attempt to accelerate its sputtering economic reform program.

The move is aimed at opening the floodgates to foreign money despite pressure from the communist allies of the ruling UPA government.

Information Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy said the cabinet approved the inclusion of foreign portfolio investment in domestic television news channels within the existing 26 percent limit on foreign holding of companies in the sector.

With this the FDI cap in news channels is on par with FDI norms in the print media by allowing investments by FIIs, NRIs and overseas corporate bodies (OCBs) within the 26 percent FDI ceiling. Earlier, only 26 percent FDI was permitted in news channels.

Besides this, the Cabinet granted foreign news channels one-year permission to uplink live feed from India. Earlier the permission was considered on event-to-event basis. The Cabinet also gave its nod to the second audio-visual co-production treaty between India and the UK, after Italy, earlier this year.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the introduction of downlinking guidelines for regulating the contents of satellite TV channels unlinked from abroad and downlinked in India. Speaking on granting foreign news channels permission to carry India-centric advertising, Reddy said, “In case of BBC or CNN, we will take up the matter on a case-to-case basis."

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