MIB plans to amend uplinking, downlinking guidelines for TV channels

MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is planning to amend uplinking and downlinking guidelines for TV channels.

The ministry has scheduled a meeting with all broadcasters and teleport operators on 6th June to seek views on changes in the guidelines. The guidelines were last amended in December 2011.

The ministry has invited members of News Broadcasting Association (NBA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation, All teleport operators, and All News Agencies of electronic media for the meeting that will be held at the ministry officer at 3 pm.

“You are requested to seek views/ suggestion of your members/ association and attend the meeting,” the MIB notice dated 24th May reads.

All Indian and foreign broadcast companies are bound by the uplinking and downlinking guidelines for operating news and non-news channels in India. The guidelines provide eligibility criteria for operating TV channels.

Existing uplinking guidelines

In its last revision, the ministry had raised the net worth criteria for news and current affairs TV channel to Rs 20 crore for the first channel and for each additional channel in news and current affairs genre, the net worth was increased to Rs 5 crore.

For non-news and current affairs channel, the minimum net worth criteria was increased to Rs 5 crore for the first channels and Rs 2.5 crore for each additional channel.

According to the Uplinking guidelines, the permission for usage of facilities/infrastructure for live news/footage collection and transmission, irrespective of the technology used, will be given to only those channels which are uplinked from India.

The applicant company will have to make full disclosure of all the agreements that have been finalised or are being entered into at the time of application. Any subsequent changes in these would be disclosed to the ministry within 15 days of any changes, having a bearing on the foregoing agreements.

For Uplinking, the news channel applicant company will be required to intimate the names and details of Non-Resident Indians (NRI) inducted in the Board of Directors of the company.

The applicant will also be liable to intimate the names and details of any foreigners/ NRIs to be employed in the company in any capacity for more than 60 days in a year, or, as regular employees.

The Uplinking applicant will have to ensure that at least 3/4th of the Directors on the Board of Directors of the company and all key Executives and Editorial staff shall be resident Indians. The representation on the Board of Directors of the company must be proportionate to the shareholding.

All appointments of key personnel (executive and editorial) shall be made by the applicant company without any reference on from any other company, Indian or foreign. The CEO of the applicant company or head of the channel will have to be a resident of India.

The applicant company must have complete management control, operational independence, and control over its resources and assets and must have adequate financial strength for running news and current affairs TV channel.

Existing downlinking guidelines

For Downlinking of first (News, Non- News or Current Affairs Television channel), the ministry has set the net worth of Rs 5 crore for the applicants and Rs 2.50 crore for each additional channels.

The Downlinking guidelines state that the applicant company must have a commercial presence in India with its principal place of business in India.

The applicant company must either own the channel it wants to be downlinked for public viewing or must enjoy, for the territory of India, exclusive marketing/ distribution rights for the same, inclusive of the rights to the advertising and subscription revenues for the channel and must submit adequate proof at the time of application.

In case the applicant company has exclusive marketing/distribution rights, it should also have the authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the channel for advertisements, subscription and programme content.

For Downlinking, the guideline mandates the applicant company to provide names and details of all the Directors of the Company and key executives such as Chairperson, MD, COO, CEO, CTO, CFO and Head of Marketing, etc. to get their national security clearance.

The applicant company for downlinking will also have to furnish, technical details such as Nomenclature, Make, Model, Name and Address of the Manufacturers of the equipments/ instruments to be used for downlinking and distribution, the Block schematic diagram of the downlinking and distribution system and also demonstrate the facilities for monitoring and storing record for 90 days.

At least one of the persons occupying a top management position in the applicant company should have a minimum three years of prior experience in a top management position in a media company (or media companies) operating News and Current Affairs / Non-News and Current Affairs Television Channels as the case may be.

The term ‘top management position’ in this context shall mean the Chairperson or Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operating Officer or Chief Technical Officer or Chief Financial Officer of the Company. The channels which were permitted but could not become operational by the date of issuance of the amended guidelines on 05.12.2011 will also be required to fulfill this criterion.

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