Govt To Freeze Frame On FDI In TV News Channels By Jan

New Delhi, December 21: | Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Union Cabinet will consider three options before making a decision on the foreign equity component of news TV channels uplinking from India, according to Information & Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj. The Cabinet may either bring the TV news channels foreign equity structure on par with FDI in news publications (26 per cent), or make it comparable with other areas in broadcasting (cable and direct-to-home) at 49 per cent. Yet another option before the Cabinet is to bar news channels with foreign equity from uplinking altogether.

All these options have been put together by the I&B ministry in a note, that has been circulated among various ministriesHome, Defence, External Affairs and Finance. A decision on the issue is expected in January, the minister said in a free-wheeling interview.

The current guidelines allow uplinking to all broadcasters, irrespective of foreign equity or nationality. However, when recently the Star proposal came up for uplinking its to-be-launched news channel, the government for the first time faced a case of 100 per cent foreign-owned news channel. Ms Swaraj said: When uplinking guidelines were made, this scenario was not visualised. But, other news channels including Zee and NDTV (content provider for Star News in its current avatar), which were granted uplinking permission, also have foreign equity.

The minister said that if the Cabinet changes the foreign equity norms for news channels, even others such as Zee would have to abide.