Foreign news agencies come under government scan

NEW DELHI: After the turn of KU-band DTH, print media and satellite uplinking, it's the turn of foreign news agencies to be under the scanner of the government.



The coalition Indian government is now seeking to review the policy that guides the operation of foreign news agencies in India and whether they should be allowed to directly supply Indian news to Indian clients and others.

The information and broadcasting ministry has called for opinions and suggestions on continuation or modification of the policy. The existing policy is governed by a Cabinet decision of 1956, which is also based on the recommendations of the First Press Commission.

According to the Cabinet decision, communication facilities should be granted to foreign news agencies only where distribution of news within the country is to be effected through an Indian news agency owned and managed by Indians, which would have full and final authority in the selection of foreign news for distribution and which would also be in a position to supply Indian news in a reasonable volume to the foreign news agencies with which it has a working arrangement.

This decision has been the yardstick for examining requests of foreign news agencies to operate in India. However, foreign news agencies were allowed direct distribution of financial news by selected clients for their own use and not for further reproduction and publication.

Opinions and suggestions are to be sent to the secretary, I&B ministry, 'A' Wing, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi 110001. The responses could also be sent by e-mail at

Considering the amount of debate that goes on whenever any government seeks to go in for a policy change or its review, this move may be laudable, but is sure to take time. And with elections in some states round the corner later this year and the general elections due next year, a decision on the operation of foreign news agencies in India seems unlikely during the tenure of this government.

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