HITS policy: Government allows 74% FDI

MUMBAI: The government has finally come out with a Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) policy, allowing the use of ‘C‘ and ‘Ku-band‘ in a technology that would help boost digitisation of cable TV services across the country.

HITS operators will have to uplink from India and will have to install SMS and encryption system.

The government has allowed 74 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) for HITS service providers, higher than the 49 per cent cap for cable TV operators. However, prior FIPB (foreign investment promotion board) approval will be required if the FDI is beyond 49 per cent.
"The Union Cabinet today approved the proposal of my Ministry to issue policy guidelines for HITS operators, that provide for a framework within which the service providers will operate," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters.

In a bid to avoid vertical integration and promote competition, the cross media holding restriction of 20 per cent of total paid up equity has been prescribed for various segment of broadcasting services.

There is no restriction on number of permissions. All those found to be eligible and fulfill the terms and conditions can apply for license to the government in the Ministry of I&B.

Though the operators are not permitted to provide signals directly to subscribers, the policy suggests that if the HITS operator is also an MSO/cable operator, he can do so through his distribution network.

Existing permission holders of HITS - like Essel Group - will have to comply and migrate to the new policy regime within three months, failing which their permission will be cancelled. Wire & Wireless (India) Ltd has already launched HITS.  
The policy also states that sufficient provisions exist under the guidelines for monitoring of content, inspection and national security related issues.

The policy does not mandate for either the cable operators or subscribers to necessarily obtain signals from a HITS platform/network wherein subscribers and cable operators can continue with the existing system. The cable operators, thus, have the liberty to switch over to HITS provider network, if desired.

Under the HITS policy, the operator uplinks signals of TV channels of different broadcasters to their satellite, enabling cable operators to downlink these signals for further distribution to subscribers through their cable network in a digital form.

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