Lok Sabha apprised of uplinking issue

NEW DELHI: The uplinking issue keeps cropping up in the Indian parliament and government assurances keep coming, as it happened again in Lok Sabha (Lower House) today. Various news channels, slated to be launched towards the end of this month, are chewing their nails off in anticipation.

The government is giving a re-look at the existing uplinking policy in news and current affairs channels, following an application from a wholly-owned foreign company (the Virgin Island-registered Star News Broadcasting), for uplinking a 24-hour news channel from India, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.

Consultations have been undertaken with various ministries and it is proposed to take the matter to the Cabinet for consideration, minister of state for information and broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply today.

Government has received applications from eleven television companies to uplink 24-hour news channels, of which seven have been permitted while the rest are under examination, the minister said.

Under the existing policy, all TV channels irrespective of their ownership or management control aimed at Indian viewership are permitted to uplink from India subject to fulfillment of eligibility criteria.

The companies that are waiting for a government stand to be taken on the uplinking issue - that will also cover those news channels that have been given permission earlier like Zee News, Aaj Tak (Hindi) and NDTV for a channel --- include Star, TV Today Network (proposing to launch an English news channel), NDTV World for the Hindi news channel and Independent News Service (INS).

Interestingly, INS is operated by Rajat Sharma who had told a few days ago that he doesn't propose to start any channel and that the uplinking permission is for beefing up news gathering purposes. But INS and its sister company, Independent Media Pvt. Ltd, at the moment, have just two programmes on air, on Star Plus Aaj Ki Baat in the evening and then one at around 11 pm.

Still, industry sources also indicated that IMPL-INS combine may be in talks with various channels to give them more news and current affairs programming, including a new one being talked about, which is likely to be funded by a Gujarat-based company.

See related story:

80 channels permitted to uplink from India, says Rajya Sabha

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