I&B ministry backs 20 per cent FDI in FM radio

NEW DELHI: Aimed at liberalising the regime, information and broadcasting ministry has cleared 20 per cent FDI for the private FM radio sector, but stuck to the ban on news and current affairs programmes.

"We have formalised the policy package for the private FM radio and sent it to various ministries for taking their views, before taking it to the Cabinet," information and broadcasting minister S Jaipal Reddy was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying on the sidelines of the of a conference by industry chamber ASSOCHAM.

The minister said the ministry has decided to limit the FDI level at the existing FII cap. "We hope to go to the Cabinet on the matter soon," he added.

However, he said the government was not open to the idea of allowing news and current affairs on private FM radio. "There are certain reservations, PTI quoted him as saying.

Broadcast and cable regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had set the ball rolling for the second phase of privatisation of FM radio last year by saying that there should be migration to revenue share of four per cent annually and that up to 26 per cent foreign investment could be allowed, subject to government review of the existing policy that bars any foreign investment in this sector.

On the issue of allowing news and current affairs (N&CA) programming on private FM radio stations, the regulator had recommended that the existing restriction be reviewed by government and lifted after incorporating adequate safeguards.

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