Television

Cabinet extends to 31 October news uplink norms deadline

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NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet yesterday extended a deadline for adhering to the prescribed eligibility criteria related to uplinking of news channels from India to 31 October, hinting that the present guidelines may be revised.



The extension in the deadline would also give time to the information and broadcasting ministry to examine various issues related to the uplinking guidelines, a government representative said today.

 

"The deadline has been extended with a view that if there is a necessity to amend the existing guidelines, the nodal ministry could come up with suggestions," finance minister P Chidambaram told indiantelevision.com this afternoon, immediately after briefing the media about a Cabinet meeting that was held yesterday.



The minister, however, did not specify the reason(s) behind the move or whether the I&B ministry had communicated to the Cabinet that it would like to bring about some changes in the existing uplinking norms, which cap foreign investment in news channels uplinking from India at 26 per cent.



However, a slew of proposals relating to uplinking that the I&B ministry is studying, at the moment, include whether foreign institutional investors should be allowed to invest in news channels and streamlining the uplinking procedures through Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd for news clips and stories by foreign news channels (like CNN and BBC).



Chidambaram today said that proposals seeking amendments in the existing uplinking norms shall be submitted for the Cabinet's consideration shortly.



The previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had approved foreign ownership and management control restrictions on news channels uplinking from India through a decision on 18 March , 2003. The guidelines pertaining to this were issued a week later on 26 March. These eligibility criteria were further revised in August, 2003.



The uplinking norms had been issued in 2003 after allegations were made by domestic news channels that Star News was trying to circumvent the then existing norms.



Subsequent to the issuance of guidelines last year, several media houses, owning TV news channels, had made representations to the I&B ministry on various issues, including allowing FII investments in TV news ventures.



While some news channels effected corporate restructuring to adhere to the uplinking norms, Zee News in particular is yet to complete the process of fulfilling the eligibility criteria.

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