Regulators

Government not opposed to FDI in media: Reddy

NEW DELHI: The government today said that it was not opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) in the media, including print and electronic.

Speaking at a special session on 'The Future of Newspapers in the World', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), here today, minister for information and broadcasting Jaipal Reddy said, "The recent Union Budget has lowered customs duties on printing equipment. There is no restriction on accessing technology, and we also welcome FDI in the media -print and electronic."

 

Giving another positive indication,the minister, answering a query, said that the government was "taking a close look" at allowing facsimile edition of newspapers in India. According to him, "Our mind is not closed as it was earlier."

 

 

The minister, however, cautioned that laws in India have not kept pace with the technological changes that the sector was going through. He said, "I am not advocating amendment of laws. As a staunch liberal, I will not propose stringent laws. Rather, I would like to see the industry self regulating itself."

This, according to Reddy, was important as no law could keep pace with changing technologies. "I am sure that the print and electronic media will take upon themselves to exercise this discipline," he added.

He assured that government would be happy to be engaged in regular dialogue with the print and electronic media on industry concerns, difficulties and issues.

Dwelling on the much talked about TV `sting' operations, Reddy maintained that he was not opposed to investigative journalism- sting or otherwise.

Still, he said, 'sting' operations were acceptable as long as they maintained decency and did not venture into 'porno journalism.'

On the never ending debate on the future of newspapers at the back of technological advancements, the minister said that he was optimistic about the future of newspapers across the world.

"I am an unabashed partisan of newspapers," he said and, on a lighter note, commented his loyalty lay with newspapers, while "I owe my debt to television."

Expressing hope, Reddy remarked that there was no reason why there could not be growth and expansion of existing newspapers in India, as also of new entrants.

"I say this because technology of news gathering and production is offering innovation to the newspaper industry and to the readers," he reasoned.

Speaking on the occasion, the visiting CEO of the Financial Times Group, Olivier Fleurot, observed that there was future for newspapers even at the back of fast technological developments, provided the print medium showed some flexibility and enriched its content.

He said that since there were more options available with the readers, they have become demanding, which is why it would be "important to innovate" to survive the competition from electronic media and the Internet.

In his remarks, CII president Sunil Kant Munjal said that newspapers had the ability to carry the message in more detail, thus being very helpful to companies and their business.

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