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Sony needs no FIPB nod for JV with BBC as FDI norms ease

MUMBAI: With the government easing foreign direct investment (FDI) rules, Sony Pictures Networks (earlier known as Multi Screen Media) has withdrawn its proposal seeking approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for entering into a 74:26 joint venture (JV) with BBC Worldwide to launch factual entertainment channel Sony BBC Earth.

The government had recently revised FDI in non-news and current affairs channels to 100 per cent through the automatic route, as part of its FDI liberalisation drive in 15 sectors including information and broadcasting.

The Sony–BBC JV no longer requires FIPB clearance since Sony BBC Earth falls under the non-news and current affairs category.

The JV will now wait only for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to issue licence for the proposed channel.

For the record, Sony had sought FIPB approval to set up a new JV company in collaboration with BBC Worldwide in the ratio of 74:26 for launching and broadcasting a non-news and current affairs television channel to be known as Sony BBC Earth.

SPN recently entered into a joint venture with BBC Worldwide to launch factual entertainment channel BBC Earth as Sony BBC Earth in India. The channel will broadcast in HD and will be available in Tamil, English and Hindi across India. It will be headed by SPN EVP and business head Saurabh Yagnik, who also heads Sony Pix and AXN.

Meanwhile, the FIPB has rejected Atria Convergence Technologies’ proposal seeking approval for increasing the equity stake by way of downstream investment in multi-system operator (MSO) ACN Cable to 73.16 per cent from 47.56 per cent.

Speaking to earlier, Atria Convergence Technologies chief executive officer Bala Malladi had said that the deal would value ACN Cable, which has a 90 per cent market share in Nellore, at Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million).

The four minority partners of ACN, who are cable TV operators, will continue to hold 26 per cent. Shiv Kumar Reddy would remain the managing director of ACN Cable, he had stated.

The FIPB has also deferred Financial Times lndia’s FDI proposal to transfer its 99.99 per cent stake to its new owners Nikkei.

As per the proposal, the Financial Times (India) will transfer its 99.99 per cent stake to Falstaff Singapore, currently held by Pearson Singapore, for an aggregate consideration of SGD 1. It will also transfer one share currently held by Pearson Amsterdam to Falstaff Singapore.

Falstaff Singapore, in turn, will transfer its entire shareholding, currently held by Pearson Amsterdam, to Nikkei for an aggregate consideration of SGD 77,80,000.