Fax edition of foreign papers could be allowed

New Delhi, March 24 | Updated: Mar 25 2005, 05:30am hrs
The government does not have a closed mind to allow in foreign newspapers to publish from India, according to information and broadcasting minister S Jaipal Reddy. We are taking a close look at allowing fascimile edition of foreign newspapers in India, Mr Reddy said.

The minister was replying to a question at a CII-Financial Times session on The future of newspapers in the world.

Financial Times CEO Olivier Fleurot told Mr Reddy that FT is keen to print and publish from India, so that the newspaper can hit the stands in the morning. Currently, London-headquartered FT has a 14% stake in Indian business daily Business Standard.

A decision on the issue will open the floodgates for a lot of foreign publications to publish in India.

Besides International Herald Tribune and Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek also want to publish from India. A group of ministers (GoM) headed by home minister Shivraj Patil is examining the issue of allowing foreign publications to print from India. The GoM is also looking at FDI issues in the print media.

As Parliament is in session, I cant make any announcements, Mr Reddy said. But he indicated that the norms in the media sector, particularly related to publishing foreign newspapers, are likely to be relaxed. Currently, a 1955 Cabinet resolution guides the print media rules. But, the minister admitted that the laws have not been able to keep pace with technology changes.

Im not advocating amendment of the laws, Mr Reddy said. However, he added that the uncertainty in the sector would be removed very soon. When asked how International Herald Tribune (IHT) has been publishing from India for the past few months, despite a government ban, the I&B minister offered a clarification. The government could not take a legal step against IHT because theres no necessary legislation for the same, he said.