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FDI policy to bring broadcast carriage services under automatic route gets Cabinet nod

MUMBAI: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex post facto approval to the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy amendments announced by the government on 20 June.

The government also amended FDI policy for the broadcast carriage services including cable TV, direct to home (DTH), headend in the sky (HITS) and mobile TV by bringing it under the 100% automatic route.

Under the earlier policy, FDI up to 49% was under automatic route for the sector. Companies seeking FDI above 49% needed the nod of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB).

However, there was a catch in the new policy. Infusion of fresh foreign investment beyond 49% in a company not seeking licence/permission from sectoral ministry, resulting in a change in the ownership pattern or transfer of stake by the existing investor to a new foreign investor, would require FIPB approval.

According to the government, the FDI policy amendments are meant to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country, thereby leading to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.

The FDI policy amendment was the second major reform by the government to attract foreign investment in the country including media and entertainment.

In November 2015, the government had liberalised the FDI regime by increasing FDI limit in the broadcast carriage services to 100% from 74%. In TV news and FM radio, the FDI limit was hiked to 49% from 26% under the government route. For non-news, the FDI limit remained at 100%, but it was brought under the automatic route.

The government said that the measures undertaken to attract FDI had resulted in increased FDI inflows at $55.46 billion in financial year 2015–16, as against $36.04 billion during financial year 2013–14. This, the government claimed, is the highest ever FDI inflow for a particular financial year.

Prime Minister Modi had said that the amendments, aimed at improving the ease of doing business in India, “made India the most open economy in the world for FDI”.

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