Sushma Swaraj new I&B minister?

MUMBAI: If the announcements are anything to go by, India is likely to have a new information and broadcasting minister. The dashing and young Arun Jaitley who was seen as being to aggressive in opening up the broadcasting sector will in all likelihood be given the boot. Indications are that he will replaced by Sushma Swaraj who was information & broadcasting minister (I&B) two years ago in the same government. She was inducted into the Indian Union Cabinet earlier this evening. In fact, Star News had already made an announcement at the time of writing that she would be given the I&B berth.

What does this mean for broadcasters, especially those owned by foreigners? Probably some slowing down in the mid-term of the liberalisation wave that was hitting them. The lady is a little more conservative than Jaitley, but during her time earlier she was instrumental in spelling out a phased policy for progressively opening up uplinking for broadcasters - be they foreign or Indian.

Jaitley, during his term, announced cable TV regulation amendments which banned liquor and tobacco advertising on television, allowed even 100 per cent foreign owned broadcasters to uplink from India subject to some restrictions, brought back Prasar Bharati under greater government control. He was expected to push through a convergence bill in the near future that would clarify several issues which have been confronting the cable and satellite television industry.

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