Regulators

'No rollback of FDI norms for print': Reddy

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NEW DELHI: The government, today, stated there would be no rollback of foreign investment norms for the print medium, though a group of ministers (GoM) has been set up to study various aspects of this sensitive sector.

There is no intention to roll back the previous government's decision allowing 26 per cent foreign investment (in the print medium), information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy told the Economic Editors conference, here today.

The reason for continuity: not to destabilise the investment framework. "We feel that the previous government had put in enough safeguards, which are being studied by a GoM along with a host of other related issues," the minister added.

The present Congres-led government had been opposed to opening up the print medium to foreign investments, which was an issue that was first debated and then acted upon by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government. "We have learned to live with it (FDI)," Reddy said when pointed out that he and his party vehemently opposed the issue.

However, Reddy said that no final view has been taken on allowing foreign institutional investors (FIIs) in news channel ventures. Various news channels in the country had been demanding that FII investments should be allowed in their respective parent companies, a la print medium.

"The (FII) issue is still being studied as we want to bring in a downlinking policy (first)," Reddy said without giving a time frame for enacting legislation in this regard. Ministerial sources, meanwhile indicated that the downlinking policy may take few weeks before a note could be readied for cabinet"s consideration.

On his pet topic of autonomy of Prasar Bharati, Reddy reiterated that some additional funding need to be generated if the pubcaster were to be really autonomous.

"Should the autonomy of Prasar Bharati (manager of Doordarshan and All India Radio) depend on the fancies of migratory ministers?" Reddy asked, hammering in a point that public had to chip in if public service broadcasting were to be kept alive in the country.

In the past, Reddy has suggested levying a one-time cess on every new radio and TV set sold in the country or levying an additional excise duty on radio and TV sets. "I am not proposing anything, but such a thing could help Prasar Bharati generate more money and reduce government funding," he added.

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