Television

I&B ministry issues uplinking guidelines

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MUMBAI: Following the notification of downlinking guidelines last month, the information and broadcasting ministry has issued new uplinking norms for television channels from India, effective 2 December 2005.

The norms are in line with a host of stringent media related issues, including mandatory sharing of sports content by private broadcasters with pubcaster Prasar Bharati, that the Union Cabinet gave approval to in October.

The uplinking guidelines makes it mandatory for private channels and sports rights management companies having TV broadcasting rights to share sport rights of events of national importance, including cricket competitions, with Prasar Bharati for terrestrial and DTH broadcasting. In case of cricket events, these shall include all matches featuring India and the semi-finals and finals of international competitions.

The pubcaster will transmit the feed, free to air, on its terrestrial channel and carried through the terrestrial network and/or the satellite/DTH mode. Also, the revenue would be shared in the ratio of 75:25 in favour of rights holders.

The marketing of the events' rights (terrestrial as well as satellite/DTH) will be decided through mutual negotiations between Prasar Bharati and the rights holder. According to the new uplinking guidelines, the marketing rights should go to the party which offers to maximise the revenue.

The applicant seeking permission to set up an uplinking hub, teleport or uplink a TV channel or uplink facility by a news agency should be a company registered in India under the Companies Act, 1956.

Eligibility criteria:

The foreign equity holding including NRI/OCB/PIO in the applicant company should not exceed 49 per cent.

The company should have a minimum net worth as prescribed below:

Item

Required Net Worth

Teleport for single channel capacity    

Rs 10 million

Teleport for 6 channel capacity    

Rs 15 million

Teleport for 10 channel capacity    

Rs 25 million

Teleport for 15 channel capacity    

Rs 30 million

The applicant will have to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 as processing fee.

After being held eligible, the applicant company shall pay a permission fee at the rate of Rs 500,000 per teleport.

The company shall uplink only those TV channels, which are specifically approved or permitted by the I&B ministry for uplinking from India.

The company shall stop uplinking TV channels whenever permission/approval to such a channel is withdrawn by the I&B ministry.

As far as the uplinking permission for a news and current affairs channel is concerned, the foreign equity holding including Foreign Direct Investment / Foreign Institutional Investor / Non Residential Indian should not exceed 26 per cent of the paid up equity of the applicant company.

For a news and current affairs channel, the minimum net worth of the company to apply for a single channel should be Rs 30 million and for each additional channel it should be Rs 20 million.

However, the entity making portfolio investment in the form of FII/NRIs deposits shall not be "persons acting in concert" with FDI investors, as defined in Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 1997.

The Company, permitted to uplink the channel shall certify the continued compliance of this requirement through its company secretary, at the end of each financial year.

Permission will be granted only in cases where equity held by the largest Indian shareholder is at least 51 per cent of the total equity, excluding the equity held by Public Sector Banks and Public Financial Institutions.

The guidelines also mentions, among other things, that the CEO or the head of the applicant company should be an Indian resident.

The guidelines mentions that permission for usage of facilities/infrastructure for live news/footage collection and transmission, irrespective of the technology used, will be given to only those channels, which are uplinked from India.

On the other hand, to ensure immediate compliance of this policy in respect of permissions/licences given/to be given for utilisation of VSAT/RTTS/Satellite Video Phone and similar other infrastructure, which lends itself for use in uplinking/point to point transfer of content for broadcast purposes; separate guidelines will be issued by the Communications and Information Technology ministry.

It will be mandatory for companies to inform the I&B ministry if there are any changes in FDI in the company, within 15 days of such change.

For uplinking a non-news and current affairs TV channel is concerned, the applicant company, irrespective of its ownership, equity structure or management control, would be eligible to seek permission. It should have a minimum net worth of Rs 15 million for a single TV channel and that of Rs 10 million for each additional channel. The permission for uplinking would be granted for 10 years and the applicant will have to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 as processing fee.

The guidelines also stated that after being held eligible, the applicant company will have to pay a permission fee at the rate of Rs 500,000 per channel.

Interested companies would have to obtain registration for each channel, in accordance with the procedure laid down under the Downlinking Guidelines separately. Also, the applicant company permitted to uplink will have to start the channel operations within a year from the date the permission is granted by the I&B ministry; failing which the permission is liable to be withdrawn.

General Terms and Conditions

The company can uplink either in C or Ku Band. Uplinking in C Band would be permitted both to Indian as well as foreign satellites. However, proposals envisaging use of Indian satellites will be accorded preferential treatment.

On the other hand, uplinking in Ku Band would be permitted through Indian satellite only, subject to the condition that this permission is not used to run/operate DTH service without proper license, to which separate guidelines apply. Satellite to be used should have been coordinated with Insat system.

The Government of India, I&B ministry shall have the right to suspend the permission of the company for a specified period in public interest or in the interest of national security to prevent its misuse. The company shall immediately comply with any directives issued in this regard.

The company shall:

Comply with the programme and advertising codes, as laid down in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed there under.

Keep record of the content uplinked for a period of 90 days and produce the same before any agency of the Government, as and when required.

Comply with the terms and conditions of Wireless Operational Licence to be issued by the WPC Wing, Ministry of Communications & IT.

Ensure its continued eligibility as applicable through out the period of permission and adhere to all the terms and conditions of the permission.

Take prior permission from the I&B ministry before effecting any change in the CEO or the Board of Directors.

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