Norms for FDI in non-news segment laid out

NEW DELHI: The long wait is over. Some global media companies like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, The National Geographic Society, the UK-based Pearson group and Australian Kerry Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings can enter the Indian print sector in the non-news segment.

The government today formalised and issued the guidelines for FDI in technical, scientific, specialty magazines, journals, periodicals and foreign investment in Indian entities publishing scientific, technical, specialty magazines, journals.

The guidelines say an application will have to be made to the ministry of information and broadcasting in the prescribed format to determine the nature of contents of the publication. Application fee of Rs 5,000 shall have to be deposited through a demand draft in favour of the Pay & Accounts Officer, I&B ministry payable at New Delhi.

The Indian government had earlier this year decided to allow these publications and foreign investment upto 74 per cent in Indian entities publishing such technical and non-news journals on a case-by-case basis. FDI up to 26 per cent has been allowed in the news category, the guidelines of which will take some more time to be firmed up, a senior I&B ministry official told today.

The application shall be processed by the I&B ministry, after due inter-ministerial consultations, to decide whether the proposed publication is covered under the category of scientific, technical or specialty magazine, periodical, journal, according to a statement issued by the Press Information Bureau on behalf of the I&B ministry.

Representatives of the ministries/specialist bodies and language experts concerned, as found necessary, will be associated in this task.

Global media companies like News Corp, CPH and even the Pearson group (publishers of the Financial Times seeking a tie-up with India's business daily Business Standard) have various publications which can fall under this category and may have a market in India through their Indian editions.

As per the government statement, in appropriate cases, the I&B ministry will issue an approval, subject to compliance with the provisions of the Press and Registration of Books Act and Rules made thereunder for publication of the foreign journals or `No Objection' certificate for foreign investment, a copy of which would be sent to RNI/SIA/RBI and the applicant.

Determination of category assigned to the publication(s) is liable for review by the I&B ministry if the contents of the publication(s) undergo change at a later date. Title verification shall continue to be done by the Press Registrar as per existing procedure.

In cases where both FDI and FII investment is envisaged, the applicant may approach the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and/or the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for clearance after obtaining the NoC from the I&B ministry.

In cases involving only portfolio investment, the applicant may approach the RBI, for further clearance, if any, after obtaining the NoC from the ministry which will keep the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance and the RBI informed of the FDI projected by the company and the balance permissible foreign investment on the portfolio investment route, while communicating the NoC.

Total foreign investment up to 74 per cent may be allowed. Guidelines of the ministry of finance on FDI and portfolio investment would apply subject to the overall ceiling of 74 per cent as mentioned. All cases involving foreign investment shall be handled by the prescribed agencies, viz. FDI on the Government approval route through the mechanism of the FIPB and portfolio investment by the RBI.

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