Indian broadcast norms to hit US companies: Casbaa

 NEW DELHI: The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) feels that new media norms introduced by India will "primarily affect" American companies.

In a note prepared for US government representatives in India and their Indian counterparts in Washington, Casbaa states, "The Indian government is introducing substantial new restrictions on foreign TV channels. These restrictions would primarily affect American companies supplying content to

cable TV systems in India."

According to the note, companies/channels such as CNN, CNBC, Star (News Corp), SET (Sony) Discovery, ESPN, HBO, AXN (Sony) and the Disney Channel are some of the American companies that will be get hit as they have widespread business interests in India.

"The new measures will have a chilling effect on international broadcasting, and run counter to India's desire for more integration into the international community. They will also have a highly negative effect on companies that have already made, or are now planning, major investments in India," the note states.

The note, a copy of which is available with, lists some of the measures in the downlink norms that would grant landing rights to TV channels uplinking from outside India as "burdensome."

"A burdensome new registration process is required, with vetting by several Ministries, substantial fees and the likelihood of bureaucratic delays interfering with business operations," it has been said.

Casbaa also feels that the new media norms will have interfere with commercial models of foreign TV channels operating in India.

"These constraints are likely to have important tax as well as operational effects, including a very large likelihood of double taxation with `uplinking' countries.

"The regulations seem deliberately designed to force international channels to establish an entity in India that would be interpreted by the tax authorities as a `permanent establishment', thus potentially subjecting international channels to double taxation," the Casbaa note argues.

The new media norms unveiled by New Delhi have been termed by the Casbaa as "new obstacles," which have been designed to get bureaucratic control before undertaking any upgrading, expansion or any other change in distribution operations.

Pointing out that some of the stipulations in the uplink and downlink norms are "technically impossible," the note states that TV channels are required to have a prescribed net worth with no indication of how it will be calculated.

"In order to continue uninterrupted broadcast of existing channels, the registration and downlinking permission is to be obtained by the channels prior to May 11, 2006, yet no time lines have been laid down for government to complete the registration process," the note points out.

The information and broadcasting ministry on 11 November announced new media norms for all TV channels, including foreign pay TV channels doing business in India.

According to Casbaa, though the ostensible purpose of the new regulations is to guard against harmful content, but they impose "very substantial new restrictions on all foreign TV channels, with especially negative attention reserved for news and sports channels."

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