Television

Major policy initiatives by I & B ministry to smoothen the information flow: PIB's year end review 2005

During the year under review, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting took several policy initiatives to smoothen the flow of information. New downlinking guidelines were put in place while uplinking policy was revised. The second phase of private FM Radio was launched for 337 radio stations spread over 91 towns across the country. Print media policy was revised in tune with the changing times. With a view to promote the film industry, the Ministry signed film co-production agreement with several countries.



New Policy Guidelines for Downliking of Television Channels Issued

Policy guidelines for downlinking all satellite television channels downlinked / received / transmitted and re-transmitted in India for public viewing have been put in place. Consequently, no person/entity shall downlink a channel, which has not been registered by the Ministry under these guidelines. Henceforth, all persons/ entities providing Television Satellite Broadcasting Services (TV Channels) uplinked from other countries to viewers in India as well as any entity desirous of providing such a Television Satellite Broadcasting Service, receivable in India for public viewership, shall be required to obtain permission from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Major Provisions of the New Guidelines are:

· The entity applying for permission for downlinking a channel, uplinked from abroad, must be a company registered in India and must have a commercial presence in India with its principal place of business in India.

· The applicant company must either own the channel it wants downlinked for public viewing, or must enjoy, for the territory of India, exclusive marketing/ distribution rights for the same, inclusive of the rights to the advertising and subscription revenues for the channel and must submit adequate proof at the time of application.

· The downlinked channel must be licensed or permitted for being broadcast by the regulatory or licensing authority of the country of transmission, proof of which would have to be submitted at the time of application.



· No News and Current Affairs channel shall be permitted to be downlinked if it does not meet certain additional conditions:

· Companies whose channels are being downlinked at present will be required to comply with all formalities of registration of these channels within 180 days from date of issue of these guidelines.



· The Company permitted to downlink registered channels shall comply with the Programme and Advertising Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.



· The sports channels/sports rights management companies having TV broadcasting rights shall with immediate effect share their feed with Prasar Bharati for national and international sporting events of national importance (to be determined by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting), held in India or abroad, for terrestrial transmission and DTH broadcasting (free-to-air). In case of cricket events, these shall include all matches featuring India and the finals and semi-finals of international competitions.



· Prasar Bharati shall transmit the feed, free to air, on its terrestrial channel and carried through the terrestrial network and/or the satellite/DTH mode. Revenue sharing formula of 75:25 in favour of rights holders without any minimum guarantee/opportunity cost should be applied.



· The applicant company shall provide the necessary monitoring facility at its own cost for monitoring of programmes or content by the representative of the Ministry of I&B or any other Government agency as and when required.



Revised Guidelines for Uplinking from India

Consolidated “Guidelines for uplinking from India” have been notified. As per the new guidelines, the company seeking permission to set up an uplinking hub/teleport should have minimum network ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 3 crores depending on channel carrying capacity of the teleport. For news & current affairs TV channels, foreign equity holding including FDI/FII/NRI investments should not exceed 26% of the paid up equity of the applicant company.



The sports channels/sports rights management companies having TV broadcasting rights shall with immediate effect share their feed with Prasar Bharati for national and international sporting events of national importance, held in India or aboard. For terrestrial transmission and DTH broadcasting (free-to-air) mandatory sharing of feed is on certain conditions.



Foreign news channels/ agencies seeking permission for temporary uplinking may be granted permission up to one year at a time for temporary uplinking from time to time through a pre-designated teleport, subject to the some conditions:

The news/footage so uplinked shall be primarily for the usage abroad by the foreign news agency/ channel and shall not be broadcast in India without downlinking permission and registration of the channel.



Policy on FM Radio Phase - II

Under the new policy, additional 337 private FM radio channels will be available across the country, spread over 91 cities/towns of A+, A, B, C, & D category. Besides, 36 channels of IGNOU and 51 others are also earmarked for educational purposes. Eight towns in the north-east region would be covered under the scheme with 40 FM radio stations, including 32 private operators and eight dedicated for educational purposes.



Similarly, in Jammu & Kashmir nine channels (7 for private Broadcasting and 2 for education) are planned in the cities of Jammu and Srinagar.



In order to overcome the drawbacks of Phase-I, the bidding process has been made closed bid type to restrict speculative bidding of the open bidding. Secondly, the fixed annual fees has been replaced with the revenue sharing pattern, whereby the private operators will have to pay four per cent of their revenue as annual fees. Thirdly, withdrawal clauses have been made more stringent to ensure that those who bid for a particular frequency do come up with the radio station.



Under the new policy provisions, care has been taken to ensure that a single large entity does not monopolize the airwaves. Accordingly, no entity can own more than one FM radio station in the same city/town, and no single entity will be allowed to own more than 15 per cent of the total airwaves frequencies in the country.

Revised Guidelines for Foreign Investment in Print Media, Facsimile Editions Issued

Foreign Direct Investment (which includes foreign direct investments by NRIs, PIOs) and portfolio investments by recognized FIIs, together up to a ceiling of 26% of paid up equity capital, in Indian entities publishing newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs has been allowed. Such investment would be permissible by foreign entities having sound credentials and international standing, subject to certain conditions.



Facsimile editions, in whole or in part(s), of foreign newspapers, by Indian entities, with or without foreign investment, and also by foreign companies owning the original newspapers, provided they get incorporated and registered in India under the Companies Act, 1956.



Permission will be granted only in cases where equity held by the largest Indian shareholder is at least 51% of the paid-up equity, excluding the equity held by public sector banks and public financial institutions, in the New Entity. At least 50% of the foreign direct investment will have to be inducted by issue of fresh equity. The balance, viz. up to 50% of the foreign direct investment, may be inducted through transfer of existing equity.



Any foreign company owning the original foreign newspaper will be permitted to publish the facsimile edition of its newspaper. However, the facsimile edition shall not carry any advertisements aimed at India readers in any form. The facsimile edition shall not carry any locally generated content/India specific content, which is not simultaneously published in the original edition of foreign newspaper.



SIMCON

25th State Information Ministers’ Conference (SIMCON) was held wherein Ministers/participants from 34 States/Union Territories took part. The Conference deliberated on the issues of piracy, entertainment tax and other issues related to the entertainment sector. The major points of consensus included,

More effective implementation of anti piracy law with adequate powers to officials of State Government and local authorities;

Licensing or registration of Video Libraries by State Government to bring it under regulatory regime of local area;

· To work towards further reduction of entertainment tax so as to bring it in the range of 25-30%. To revive cinema industry and to encourage multiplexes;



To organize sensitization and training of State Government Officers by the Government of India for monitoring cable operators.



Content Issues on TV



With a view to ensure that the content in TV programmes is healthy one, the Ministry held a workshop of all stakeholders to the issue besides educationists, psychologists and social activists. The daylong deliberations resulted into a consensus on the need for a content regulator to oversee that content harmful to the society is not given undue projection. The said proposed regulator is to consist of experts from varied sections of the society.



Tackling Certification Issues



In order to have the inputs from experts from diverse fields on the issues related to certification of films and TV programmes, a Workshop was organized by the Ministry. The Workshop came out with several positive suggestions, which were accepted by the Ministry. The suggestions included, need for a self regulatory body for the film and TV industry to review the social responsibility aspect before the TV programme/film is submitted to CBFC for certification; film stars to appear in public service ads on all societal concerns before and after the films and TV programmes; there will be disclaimers on smoking, before the screening of the films and TV programmes which contain smoking scenes; the need for complaints and redressal system for industry for self regulation on the lines of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI); mandatory social messaging by broadcasters and film producers; setting up a Steering Committee comprising representatives of film producers/directors, social activists and senior officers to take forward this process of consultation in respect of societal concerns related to contain in films and TV programmes; consumers and viewers rights must be protected for promoting informed choice through the self regulatory body of the industry.



Film Co-Production Agreements

With a view to give a fillip to the Indian Film industry, and to enable it attain global dimensions, the Ministry signed film co-production agreements with United Kingdom and Italy. The signing of such agreements with Germany, China and Canada is at an advanced stage of finalization.



Film Festivals

The 36th International Film Festival of India was held in Goa. Nearly 300 screenings of 182 films from 35 countries were held during the 11-day extravaganza. The Competition Section this year was extended to include films from Africa and Latin America also, besides Asia. Over four thousand delegates and film personalities from around the world attended the Festival. Several new features were introduced during this year’s Festival. These include, retrospectives of films from various countries including Italy, Poland, Africa, Germany, Portugal, Canada, Egypt, Taiwan and Australia; all India Premier of six films at the festival; beach screenings; special tributes to film legends like Ismail Merchant, Sunil Dutt and Gemini Ganeshan who passed away recently; NFA Gold Section with a view to expose the younger generation to the works of great film makers of the past; masters class and meet the directors programme. With a view to develop Goa as IFFI destination and to bring it on par with other renowned world film festivals, the Ministry signed an agreement with the Goa Government making Goa the permanent venue for IFFI. The Government also announced its support towards development of necessary infrastructure in Goa in this regard.



The Directorate of Film Festivals held Weekend Film Festivals on various legendary film personalities. These were held in Siri Fort, New Delhi and were aimed to bring to the people cinema classics/masterpieces of yesteryears. The doyens of Indian cinema on whom these festivals were held included – Kundan Lal Saigal, Madhubala, Devanand, Satyajit Ray, Gemini Ganesan and Sunil Dutt. A week long children film festival was organized in Hyderabad.



Others

The Ministry and the Prasar Bharati agreed to launch of a new satellite Urdu Channel. The proposed Channel will have at least seven-hours of transmission everyday. Rs. 20 crore has been provided for the new Channel during the current financial year.

DAVP organized several photo exhibitions on Dandi March, Tsunami, Freedom Struggle and Journey of Indian Cinema.

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