MSOs to be permitted 74% FDI: Jatua

NEW DELHI: Multi-system operators taking up digitisation with addressability will be permitted 74 per cent foreign direct investment as part of a move to bring about uniformity in FDI in broadcasting, Parliament was informed today.

Even as the views of different Ministries are awaited on the proposal to increase FDI in the media, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting C M Jatua said his Ministry had worked out with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India certain terms and conditions to take care of security related concerns.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion cleared the proposal for uniform Foreign Direct Investment in broadcast carriage services providers, including cable TV and direct-to-home (DTH) around October last year.

The DIPP, which functions under the Industry Ministry, then circulated a draft cabinet note which also includes raising overseas investments limits according to suggestions given by Trai.

The note has been sent to different ministries, including Home Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Law, Finance, and Department of Telecommunications. The note will have to be approved by these Ministries before it can be sent to the cabinet.

It is learnt that services sector received FDI worth $2.88 billion between April and August 2011.

The draft note wants the FDI limits in the broadcast carriage services providers such as cable TV, DTH, Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS), IPTV, mobile TV and teleport services to be made uniform at 74 per cent. The proposal includes 49 per cent FDI for local cable operators and 26 per cent for news and current affairs channels.

Under the proposal, there is also provision for putting 49 per cent FDI (out of the proposed 74 per cent) on automatic route. But there is no automatic route for content services like uplinking, downlinking and FM radio, Jatua said.

At present, FM radio and uplinking of news TV channels are allowed 26 per cent; cable TV, DTH and teleports are permitted 49 per cent; while it is 74 per cent in case of HITS. Uplinking of non-news and downlinking are both allowed 100 per cent FDI. For private FM radio, the FDI limit was raised from 20 per cent to 26 per cent last year.

In June 2010, Trai had made suggestions to raise FDI for broadcast carriage services like DTH to 74 per cent.

The move is expected to help the media which has been clamouring for more foreign investment, and for several foreign investors including expatriate Indians.

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