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Govt moving ahead on proposal of hiking FDI in news, says Rathore

NEW DELHI: There is some good news
for foreign media companies that are
interested in entering news business
in India. The Narendra Modi-led
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is
moving forward on the issue of hiking
the foreign direct investment (FDI)
limit in news and current affairs
While refusing to give any time frame
within which the government would
bring about the change in FDI limit,
Minister of State for Information &
Broadcasting Col Rajyavardhan Singh
Rathore has said that the government
has started moving in that direction.
“Can’t really say that we are going
to make it happen in a given
timeframe, but the very fact that we
have started thinking about it means
we have started moving ahead with
it,” Rathore told the captains of M&E
industry at the CII Big Picture
Summit 2015.
Media reports had earlier stated that
an inter-ministerial committee is
considering the Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India’s (TRAI) proposal
to increase FDI limit in broadcast
carriage and content services, news
and current affairs TV channels and
FM radio services.
In its recommendations on 22 August
2013, the authority had said that FDI
limit should be enhanced to 100 per
cent from 74 per cent in the broadcast
carriage services like cable TV, DTH,
IPTV, mobile TV, HITS and teleport,
with up to 49 per cent FDI under
automatic route and beyond 49 per
cent with prior approval of the
Foreign Investment Promotion Board
It had also recommended enhancing
FDI limit to 49 per cent from 26 per
cent for uplinking of news and current
affairs TV channels and FM radio
services while maintaining status quo
for uplinking of non-news and current
affairs TV channels and downlinking
of TV channels. It was also
recommended that FDI should only be
allowed with prior approval of the
Rathore said that the investments in
news channels are essential for
raising the quality of journalism.
Currently, the news broadcasters are
not able to make investments in
producing quality content since the
business model is flawed which makes
news business less favourable in the
eyes of the investors.
“Unfortunately, because of that there
is not much investment happening in
the training of the journalist. The
quality of the journalist, the
questions, the news that is being
presented and we as a growing nation,
we need to have journalists as the
fourth pillar of democracy. We need to
have very good quality news.
Therefore, there is need to
investment in the quality of
journalism itself,” Rathore said.
He also said that government policies
are changing with changing times
while pointing out to the
government’s decision to allow
private FM radio stations to run news
sourced from All Indian Radio (AIR).
“There was a time when there was no
news on private radio but now with
Phase III expansion, this has
changed,” he said.
He also said that the government was
willing to partner the industry to set
up an Institute of Excellence for
Gaming & Animation.
“The idea was under discussion in view
of the skill potential in the M&E
sector where the youth workforce
could act as a force multiplier. The
proposed joint initiative could lead to
the convergence of content, skill and
technology in the M&E domain,” he
Regarding the various initiatives
undertaken by the government across
the M&E sector, the minister said
that the potential of India as film
shooting destination was part of the
proactive initiative in the policy
The ministry, he stated, was pursuing
the idea of funding Indian films in
collaboration with the industry to
participate in the prestigious
international awards such as the
Oscars and Cannes. This was being
noted keeping in mind the vision of the
Prime Minister to project the soft
power potential of the country.
In this context, the ministry also
proposed to set up NFDC as a single-
window institution for all film
shooting permissions in India. The
minister called upon the industry to
undertake ‘out-of–the-box
solutions’ to promote cinema through
small theatres and mobile theatres in
rural areas to enhance the reach of
He also called upon the industry to
reinforce campaigns and networking
to project the importance of India’s
soft power across the globe.
He emphasised that the future road
map of the M&E sector depends on
technology, creativity and vision to
tap resources for optimal utilisation.
The government’s policy would
incorporate the same keeping in mind
the contemporary M&E domain
Quoting some of the initiatives of the
ministry, Col Rathore reiterated the
success of FM Phase III auctions in
light of the transparent process
adopted, measures being put in place
to fast-track digitisation and the
emphasis of the government on social
media and digital advertising to ensure
enhanced presence of government
MIB special secretary JS Mathur said
that the M&E landscape was
undergoing transformative changes
and this was a challenge for all
stakeholders concerned. Mathur
underlined the initiatives taken by the
government for providing an enabling
environment for the growth of the
He also said that the rapidly changing
technology provides great
opportunities for the players in the
sector, especially content developers
and creators.

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