Government 'still compiling data' on news channels uplink norms deadline

NEW DELHI: After the stridency, comes the leniency. The deadline to comply with uplink norms for news channels has come and gone, but the government is silent on the issue.

On Friday, a senior government official said that it’s still not clear whether everybody has complied with the regulation that stipulated that by 30 September all news channels uplinking from India were to restructure and bring down their foreign holding to the permissible limit of 26 per cent.

“Data is still being compiled,” the official said, evading a direct reply whether the likes of Zee News and CNBC TV18 have complied with the uplink norms.

Though Zee News was hived off from Zee Telefilms into a separate company, which had majority Indian investment, mid-September, information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy few days later had expressed ignorance of any restructuring in Zee News or CNBC TV 18.

Reddy had then maintained that the 30 September deadline would be strictly followed. On being contacted, an executive of Zee News Pvt. Ltd reiterated that compliance of government norms has been completed and the company had “not heard” anything new from the I&B ministry after the deadline.

Though CNBC TV 18 was not available for comments, industry sources claimed that the restructuring process is complete. It is expected to be on the lines of restructuring done by Zee News that is based on calculating the foreign holding in news companies on a pro rata basis, which makes the whole thing complicated.

“The complication cannot be helped as government norms are such,” a source close to the TV 18 CNBC restructuring told

On 16 September, Zee Telefilms had informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it has decided to hive off its news business into a separate company, Zee News Pvt Ltd, which will have scaled down foreign holding.

In Zee News Pvt Ltd, Jayaneer Capital Private Ltd will hold 40 per cent and Churu Trading Company Private Ltd 25 per cent equity stake, while Zee Telefilms' equity stake is 35 per cent, which works out under a complex formula to about 20 per cent of foreign holding to comply with the 26 per cent cap.

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