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Broadcast media sector FDI norms see minor tweaks in govt’s fresh announcement

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NEW DELHI: The government of India yesterday issued a comprehensive FDI policy for various sectors where a slight change has been noticed in the media sector from what had already been announced in June 2016. Now, 100 per cent FDI is allowed in cable TV and HITS under automatic route for both digital and non-digital carriage services.

For those segments of the media where automatic FDI approval is not granted and a government okay is needed, it would now be the nodal ministry --- Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) --- that would be responsible for the green signal instead of Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board, a division that has been now dismantled as part of government’s bid to make easy doing business in India.

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FDI in broadcast carriage services like teleports, DTH, cable networks (both MSOs and LCOs for DAS and non-DAS areas), mobile TV, headend-in-the-sky broadcasting service (HITS) is 100 per cent under automatic route.

The foreign investment limit (FDI) in terrestrial broadcasting of FM Radio and up-linking of news and current affairs TV channels remain at 49 per cent subject to government approval. Up-linking and downlinking of non-news and current affairs TV channels continue to be 100 per cent under automatic route.

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Publishing of newspaper and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs  and publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines dealing with news and current affairs have a 26 per cent FDI limit subject to government approval.

The head of an MSO company, on condition of anonymity, said it’s slightly confusing as to why it has been stated that 100 per cent FDI is allowed for carriage services like cable TV and HITS in both digital and non-digital areas  under automatic route.

Though the government is of the opinion that 100 per cent digitization has been achieved in the country, broadcast carriage industry (MSOs and LCOs) insist there analog pockets in the country persist as set-top-boxes are still being seeded in small towns and rural areas.

The government has also notified --- most of it reiteration of earlier policy decision --- detailed conditions for the broadcast media and they can be viewed at http://dipp.nic.in/sites/default/files/CFPC_2017_FINAL_RELEASED_28.8.17.pdf:

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