The Union Cabinet has approved the ‘Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of Television Channels in India, 2022’. The consolidated guidelines will ease the issue of permissions to the companies/ LLPs registered in India for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels, setting up of teleports/ teleport hubs, use of digital satellite news gathering (DSNG)/ satellite news gathering(SNG)/ electronic news gathering (ENG) systems, uplinking by Indian news agencies and temporary uplinking of a live event.
As per the ministry, the main advantages emanating from the revised guidelines include:
Ease of compliance for the permission holder
The requirement for seeking permission for the live telecast of events has been done away with and only prior registration of events to be telecast live would be necessary, the guidelines said. Moreover, there is no requirement of prior permission for a change of language or conversion of the mode of transmission from Standard Definition (SD) to High Definition (HD) or vice versa, only prior intimation would be required.
Additionally, the guidelines state that in case of emergency, for a company/ LLP with only two directors/ partners, a director/ partner can be changed, which is subject to security clearance post the appointment, to enable business decision-making. According to the guidelines, a company/LLP can use news-gathering equipment other than digital satellite news gathering services (DSNG), such as optic fibre, bag back, mobile, among others, for which no separate permission would be necessary.
Ease of doing business
The guidelines state that specific timelines have been proposed for a grant for permission and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) entities can also seek permission. Furthermore, LLPs / companies would be allowed to uplink foreign channels from Indian teleports which would create employment opportunities and make India a teleport-hub for other countries, it stated. According to the guidelines, a news agency can get permission for a five-year period, compared to one year at present. A channel can be uplinked by using facilities of more than one teleport/ satellite against only one teleport/satellite at present and it has broadened the possibility of allowing transfer of TV channel/teleport to a company / LLP as permissible under the companies act/ Limited Liability Act, the guidelines said.
Simplification and rationalisation
According to the ministry, one composite set of guidelines has replaced two separate guidelines. The structure of the guidelines has been systematised to avoid duplication and common parameters, it said, and the penalty clauses have been rationalised. A separate nature of penalties has been proposed for a different type of contraventions compared to uniform penalties at present, it added.
The guidelines mention that the companies/LLPs which have permission to uplink and downlink a channel may undertake public service broadcasting (except where it may not be feasible) for a minimum period of 30 mins in a day on themes of national importance and social relevance. Moreover, it states that the TV channels uplinking in a frequency band other than the C band are mandatorily required to encrypt their signals. Additionally, the net worth requirement for companies/LLPs holding permissions is to be as per the guidelines at the time of renewals, it said. And lastly, the provision of security deposits to ensure payment of dues.