Govt allows 26% FDI in digital media for news & current affairs

MUMBAI: The union government has permitted 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) in uploading/streaming of news and current affairs through digital media to bring it at par with the print media.

For the record, the government has permitted 49% FDI in news & current affairs TV channels under approval route while in print media the FDI limit is 26% through approval route.

“The extant FDI policy provides for 49% FDI under approval route in Up-linking of ‘News & Current Affairs’ TV Channels. It has been decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/ streaming of News & Current Affairs through Digital Media, on the lines of print media,” the government said in a release.

In her maiden budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that the union government is looking to open up the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry.

Currently, 100% FDI has been allowed under the automatic route in non-news channel and broadcast distribution services like cable, direct to home (DTH), and headend in the sky (HITS) platforms.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for the review of FDI in various sectors. The government said that the changes in FDI policy will result in making India a more attractive FDI destination, leading to benefits of increased investments, employment, and growth.

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

The government noted that FDI is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country. Government has put in place an investor-friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100% is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities. FDI policy provisions have been progressively liberalized across various sectors in recent years to make India an attractive investment destination.

Some of the sectors include Defence, Construction Development, Trading, Pharmaceuticals, Power Exchanges, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting and Civil Aviation.

These reforms have contributed to India attracting record FDI inflows in the last 5 years. Total FDI into India from 2014-15 to 2018-19 has been $286 billion as compared to $189 billion in the 5-year period prior to that (2009-10 to 2013-14). In fact, total FDI in 2018-19 i.e. $64.37 billion (provisional figure) is the highest ever FDI received for any financial year.

Global FDI inflows have been facing headwinds for the last few years. As per UNCTAD’s World Investment Report, 2019, global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows slid by 13% in 2018, to $1.3 trillion from $1.5 trillion the previous year – the third consecutive annual decline.

“Despite the dim global picture, India continues to remain a preferred and attractive destination for global FDI flows. However, it is felt that the country has the potential to attract far more foreign investment which can be achieved inter-alia by further liberalizing and simplifying the FDI policy regime,” the government said.

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