FII investment in TV news ventures: only cabinet nod remaining

NEW DELHI: The government today officially admitted that a decision has been taken in principle to allow FII investment in TV news ventures, bringing it at par with norms for the print medium.

However, the FII investment would form part of the over allzz foreign investment cap of cap of 26 per cent

Information and broadcasting ministry has also firmed up changes that would be effected in the radio broadcast policy, including those for FM radio, wherein the bidding process would not be done away with.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a function to announce measures being taken by the ministry relating to content regulation, which was reported by last week only, a senior ministry official said, "We are of the opinion that FII investment in news channel ventures should be allowed and a note relating to this has been circulated amongst other ministries."

As reported by earlier, the clarification on FII investment in news channels uplinking from India would be issued by the government "soon after a formal Cabinet nod is taken," the official said.

This sets to rest speculation on FIIs investments, making life easier for listed media companies like TV Today Network, Television Eighteen and NDTV. In one case, NDTV had to issue an advisory to investors saying FIIs and people of foreign origin and/or non-resident Indians should not deal in NDTV shares on the stock exchange s the limit had been reached.

The government official also said that a note on radio policy has been finalised, which partly takes suggestions from the sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Though the bidding process in unlikely to be done away with fully, the official pointed out that a licensing structure would be put in place with the aim to keep the fee at a "reasonable" level.

The I&B ministry has also decided to truly empower the people with community radio by handing over such projects to the community minus cumbersome clearance procedure.

Meanwhile, I&B minister Jaipal Reddy today announced that a roundtable of broadcast industry stakeholders have been called to dwell on various aspects of content regulation, which would be separate from a downlinking policy that had been proposed.

The interaction, slated for later this week, is expected to come out with recommendations for amendments in the existing programming and advertising code, changes that need to be effected in the role and functions of a regulatory body and the nature and scope of codes and standards under the proposed new legislation.

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