Govt turns down IBF plea on downlink norm

NEW DELHI: The Indian government has turned down a request from the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to extend the 180-day deadline for fulfilling newly-formulated downlinking norms by broadcasting companies.

In a letter to the information and broadcasting ministry, the IBF, an apex body of TV companies operating in India, had sought two months extension on the deadline since the downlink application form had been put out by the ministry on its website around 25h January 2006.

The government had given all TV companies a 180-day period from 11 November 2005 (when the guidelines were formulated and announced) to fulfill all conditions listed in the downlink policy to get landing rights in India.

The Indian government’s downlink policy has been a subject of debate in the broadcast industry with some players and industry bodies like the Hong Kong-based Casbaa terming the conditions harsh that will affect various business models of companies concerned.

Amongst the many conditions, the most important one being that all TV channels beaming into India will have to register themselves with the government/designated authority and establish a permanent establishment here irrespective of the fact whether they are uplinking from India or outside.

Establishment of permanent establishment in India is aimed at making TV companies, managing channels uplinked out of India, answerable to Indian laws. This would also result in a higher outflow of money as taxes to be paid in India.

In the past, there have been instances when the Indian arm of foreign
broadcasting companies have pleaded before disputes tribunal that they were not governed by Indian laws as they are mere advertising concessionaries undertaking marketing activities.

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