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Govt examining proposal to hike FDI limit in TV news and print

MUMBAI: After raising foreign investment limit in sensitive railway and defence sectors, the Narendra Modi-led government is looking at the TV news and print space.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) minister Arun Jaitley recently reviewed a departmental presentation on the case to review sectoral FDI caps in the media space, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

The matter has now been referred to an inter-ministerial panel, which will come back to Jaitley for a decision, the report added.

A cabinet proposal will have to be moved if the government decides to increase the FDI limit in these two sectors. Presently, the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in both print and TV news has been capped at 26 per cent.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recommendations on FDI in Broadcasting Sector in 2013 had recommended enhancement of FDI limit to 49 per cent for uplinking of news and current affairs TV channels. It also recommended that FDI should only be allowed with prior approval of the FIPB.

It had also recommended enhancement of FDI limit to 49 per cent for FM radio services. In the broadcast carriage services i.e. Cable TV, DTH, IPTV, mobile TV, HITS and teleport, the authority recommended that FDI limit should be enhanced to 100 per cent with up to 49 per cent on automatic route and beyond 49 per cent with prior approval of the FIPB.

In January, Jaitley had questioned the rationale behind putting FDI caps in news media. He had said that the advent of technology has rendered FDI restriction in news meaningless as foreign news channels and newspapers can be accessed by anyone over the internet.

“Technology has obliterated the distinction between Indian and foreign media. A 100 per cent foreign owned channel can be beamed into India from outside. Similarly, the physical newspaper might not be available in India but it can be accessed on the internet,” he had said.

“So do these restrictions have any meaning? Should we allow in this day and age where we are faced with an uncertain financial model for more foreign equity to come in? This is still a wide and open debate.”