IMG feels MCCS equity structure outside guidelines

NEW DELHI: The inter-ministerial group (IMG), looking into the case of Star News, feels the equity structuring of Media Content Services India Pvt. Ltd. (MCCS) is not as per guidelines.

"The department of company affairs (DCA) agreed with the information and broadcasting ministry view that there is a problem with the equity structure of MCCS as per the guidelines that exist now," a senior government official said today after a meeting of the IMG that includes officials from the ministries of information and broadcasting and law and DCA.

MCCS is the company that has applied for permission to uplink content for Star News from India. The present guideline for foreign investment in news channels, amongst other things, says that foreign holding cannot be over 26 per cent and that the editorial control of the channel should rest with Indians.

Though the official was not forthcoming with details, he did admit that one of the problem areas lay in lack of clarity on editorial control and the shareholders agreement does not throw any light on the fact that editorial control would be in the hands of resident Indians or the Indian shareholders in MCCS.

Asked if the IMG would recommend a review of the foreign investment policy, the official said that would be a decision of the GoM after it has studied the case. Without detailing the exact stand of the I&B ministry, the official said the IMG has been conveyed of the opinion of the ministry.

Pointing out that DCA had been asked for some technical information relating to the veto power of an investor holding 26 per cent and more shareholding in a company, the official said that a "final view" on the issue would be taken by a group of ministers (GoM) after IMG has prepared note for them.

Information on a meeting of the GoM is not known as of today. But it is expected that with the IMG submitting its report to the GoM, consisting of the ministries of I&B, law and finance, soon and with the Parliament adjourned till 13 August, the ministers can meet sometime next week.

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