GoM to review print sector vis-a-vis FIIs

NEW DELHI: Giving away a fact that there must have been some internal differences on the matter, the Indian government, today said that a ministerial group will review the whole print medium sector vis-?-vis foreign investments (FII).

"A group of ministers (GoM) would review the entire print medium sector vis-a-vis publications of foreign journals and newspapers in India and the foreign investment allowed at present," information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy today told journalists during a briefing of a Cabinet meeting. The I&B ministry had taken some media-related issues to the Union Cabinet, including amendments to an antiquated Press Registration Bureau Act, in the light of the fact that The International Herald Tribune has started publication from India in what the government feels is a breach of the letter and spirit of existing guidelines on the issue.

Though Reddy made it clear that the proposed GoM is unlikely to have a say in foreign investment norms for the television sector, he did not rule out over turning of the previous government's decision allowing up to 26 per cent foreign investment in the news category of the print medium and up to 74 per cent in the technical journal category.

"How can I predict what view the GoM would take? One of the options could be to make the present guidelines (on foreign investment in print medium) more stringent," he cautiously said.

The changes in the foreign investment norms in the print medium was brought about in 2002, after hectic lobbying by a section of media companies, by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government. That there were some differences within the Union Cabinet on the issue of amendment in the PRB Act and the IHT case could be seen from the fact the compromise formula was the suggestion on formation of a GoM, rather than okay an I&B ministry proposal, envisaging a slew of changes.

The GoM, which does not have any time frame for its recommendations at the moment, would look at the print medium sector, violations of guidelines occurring therein and what could be done keeping in mind the changing national and global scenario.

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