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Govt issues revised uplink norms for news channels

NEW DELHI: The Indian government today formally issued the revised eligibility criteria for uplinking of news and current affairs channels from India, which seek to make the norms more stringent for compliance.

According to information and broadcasting ministry officials,with the issuing of the revised guidelines, as per a decision of a group of ministers that dwelt on the issue, Star News would get a month's time from today, till 27 September, to comply and further restructure itself if the channel wished to continue uplinking from India.

"Kaushal Dalal ( representative of Star India who is also a board member of the company managing Star News in India) was here today and he has been told of the revised guidelines formally, " senior I&B ministry official said.

Asked whether the one-month deadline would be sacrosanct, the official was non-committal. Star News has been granted several temporary permissions for uplinking from the time a controversy around the news channel erupted with several politicians and Members of Parliament alleging that despite a foreign holding cap, it was actuallly Star that was controlling the show on Star News with Indian shareholders not having enough powers.

Indiantelevision.com reproduces the complete text of the revised guidelines here.

REVISED GUIDELINES FOR UPLINKING OF NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS TV CHANNELS FROM INDIA

II. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

An applicant company desirous of uplinking news and current affairs channel(s) from India will be considered eligible, if it fulfils the following criteria: -

(A) It is registered/ incorporated in India under the Companies Act, 1956.

(B) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) shall not exceed 26 per cent of the Paid-up Equity of the applicant company.

(C) Permission will be granted only in cases where equity held by the largest Indian shareholder is at least 51 per cent of the total equity, excluding the equity held by Public Sector Banks and Public Financial Institutions as defined in Section 4A of the Companies Act, 1956, in the New Entity. The term largest Indian shareholder, used in this clause, will include any or a combination of the following:

(1) In the case of an individual shareholder,

(a) The individual shareholder. 

(b) A relative of the shareholder within the meaning of Section 6 of the Companies Act, 1956. 

(c) A company/ group of companies in which the individual shareholder/HUF to which he belongs has management and controlling interest.

(2) In the case of an Indian company,

(a) The Indian company (b) A group of Indian companies under the same management and ownership control. For the purpose of this Clause, “Indian company” shall be a company, which must have a resident Indian or a relative as defined under Section 6 of the Companies Act, 1956/ HUF, either singly or in combination holding at least 51 per cent of the shares. 

Provided that in case of a combination of all or any of the entities mentioned in Sub-Clause (1) and (2) above, each of the parties shall have entered into a legally binding agreement to act as a single unit in managing the matters of the applicant company.

(D) While calculating the 26% FDI in the equity of the applicant company, the foreign holding component, if any, in the equity of the Indian shareholder companies of the applicant company will be duly reckoned on pro rata basis so as to arrive at the total foreign holding in the applicant company.

(E) The company shall make full disclosure, at the time of application, of Shareholders Agreements, Loan Agreements and such other Agreements that are finalized or are proposed to be entered into. Any subsequent changes in these would be disclosed to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, within 15 days of any changes, having a bearing on the foregoing Agreements.

(F) It will be obligatory on the part of the company to take prior permission from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting before effecting any alteration in the foreign shareholding patterns and the shareholding of the largest Indian shareholders, as indicated in Clause (C) above or any alteration in any other Agreements, as indicated in Clause (E) above.

(G) The applicant shall be required to intimate the names and details of all persons, not being resident Indians, who are proposed to be inducted in the Board of Directors of the company.

(H) The company shall be liable to intimate the names and details of any foreigners/ NRIs to be employed/ engaged in the company either as Consultants (or in any other capacity) for more than 60 days in a year, or, as regular employees.

(I) At least 3/4th of the Directors on the Board of Directors of the company and all key Executives and Editorial staff shall be resident Indians.

(J) The representation on the Board of Directors of the company shall as far as possible be proportionate to the shareholding.

(K) All appointments of key personnel (executive and editorial) shall be made by the applicant company without any reference on from any other company, Indian or foreign.

(L) The applicant company must have complete management control, operational independence and control over its resources and assets and must have adequate financial strength for running a news and current affairs TV channel. 

(M) CEO of the applicant company, known by any designation, and/ or Head of the channel, shall be a resident Indian.

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