Television

Licensed Indian channels drop to 784

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MUMBAI: It has come under flak in the past for being rather liberal in issuing licences to TV broadcasters. But the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has been cracking down on this front over the past year or so.

And this is evident from the list of permitted private satellite TV channels which the MIB released on 2 December 2013. According to the list, there are 784 channels which have been allowed to beam over India.

The MIB’s 2012 official list had 848 channels when it was released on 20 December 2012. That means around 64 licences have been revoked in the past year.

After the Sarada Group scam last year, the MIB had sent notices to various companies asking for details about their shareholdings and structure. It then started the process of cancelling licences based on their response.

Among the reasons that it gave for the revocation figured: companies had not started broadcasting even a year after being issued a licence and shareholding patterns and directors were changed without the ministry being informed.

The MIB has also gone easy on issuing new licences to potential broadcasters. Some 50 applications are pending with it, according to industry officials.

The files for licence clearances have piled up because several representative meetings between the MIB and the Ministry of Home Affairs have been postponed over the past two months, point out industry executives.

A highly-placed industry source reveals: “A meeting was supposed to happen last week and this week as well, but it failed to take place.”

Among some of the channels which are awaiting MIB's nod include: Epic TV, Al Arabiya News, Maha Movie, Blue TV etc.

Another source adds: “State elections and general elections have been a priority for the government. We, as an industry, are worried and feel that licenses are not on its priority list.”

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