Swaraj says FDI in broadcasting open to debate

NEW DELHI: With the CAS hurdle being crossed today, is the foreign direct investment (FDI) in broadcasting issue next on India's Information and Broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj's agenda? She has given an indication that it well might be!

During the passage of the CAS Bill in the Rajya Sabha (Indian parliament's Upper House) on 10 December, she stated that if the members of the Parliament so desired, then the government could have a debate on the issue of FDI in broadcasting medium.

Replying to a query raised by one of the Rajya Sabha MPs, Swaraj said, "You can give notice to the deputy chairman (of the House) and if all of you want, we can have a debate on the issue (of FDI in broadcasting medium)."

Foreign direct investment in broadcasting has been a big taboo in the Indian context with xenophobic politicians stating that the natives' minds will end up being controlled by foreign media barons and governments.

For almost five decades the government had depended on a Cabinet decision to stop foreign investment in print or any other media. That blockade had been lifted earlier this year by Swaraj who persuaded the government to allow foreign companies to invest 26 per cent in general interest publications and 74 per cent in special interest niche publications.

Swaraj's statement today almost appears to be an invitation to make the BJP-led coalition government look at the issue of FDI in broadcasting afresh. Now it is up to somebody to prod some of the members of the Parliament to spark off the debate. And who knows, possibly, the 'miracle' lady may well work another miracle!

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