Foreign b'casters seek US ambassador Mulford help to dilute Indian downlink norms

NEW DELHI: A section of TV broadcasters operating in India have approached the US government representatives here to take up certain issues in the downlinking norms with the Indian government.

Though the guidelines have been notified and any change, if at all acceded to by the government, would be a time consuming affair, efforts are being made to see if some clauses can be diluted.

Broadcasting industry sources told that in the last 10 days, a delegation of companies, mostly comprising American outfits, sought help of the US ambassador in India, David C Mulford, on the downlinking issue.

A background paper is being prepared for him so that he can take up the issue with the Indian government and its representatives, including the information and broadcasting ministry.

According to the sources, the industry-Mulford meeting was, interestingly, also attended by Dubai-based Ten Sports.

However, some foreign broadcasters are of the opinion that such a stand could also be interpreted as a confrontation with Indian policy makers, which could be avoided at this juncture when India remains the biggest market open to all after the Chinese governments stringent media norms announced recently have crippled foreign companies expansion plans there.

That most foreign broadcasters, operating in India, are worried about a clause relating to establishment of an entity in India that is answerable to local laws (in technical jargon its known as permanent establishment), is a foregone conclusion.

But what is raising temperatures is the fact that this move would dramatically increase tax outflow of the broadcasters who have been paying a certain amount of tax in India based on notional revenue mop up.

Setting up of permanent establishment (PE) by foreign broadcasters would mean that government would collect taxes on actual revenue been generated here. The flip side: some costs, as shown by companies, might become a topic of hot debate.

The industry-US ambassador meeting, it is learnt, was been initiated by the low profile Indian chapter of a Hong Kong-based body of cable and satellite broadcasters.

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