The information and broadcasting ministry, since the beginning of this year, has cleared 13 proposals for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in media and is examining another 22 proposals.
There have been eight proposals for FDI in the news and current affairs media including Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd, Business India Publications Ltd, Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd, Dhara Prakashan Pvt Ltd, Writers & Publishers Ltd and DT Media & Entertainment Pvt Ltd.
Midram Publications proposes to bring out a facsimile edition of IHT. Financial Times (India) Pvt Ltd has submitted a proposal for coming out with its newspapers and periodicals. Both are under consideration by the government. Details of the investment in these companies are not known.
Currently, the government guidelines have capped FDI inflow into the news and current affairs segment at 26 per cent FDI, with several riders like insistence on an Indian editor and single largest shareholder to have 51 per cent stake, among others.
“Owing to the strong impetus for growth from the economic and demographic factors coupled with some regulatory corrections, the sector has recently witnessed increasing foreign investment flows in most segments ...especially print media,” according to PWC-FICCI’s The Indian Entertainment and Media Industry report, 2006.
In the non-news media segment — scientific, technical, speciality magazines, journals or periodicals, which can obtain even 100 per cent FDI — five proposals have gone through while as many as 20 are awaiting the ministry’s nod.
A sector analyst commented that at a time when the stock market was swinging up and down, raising money from the market could be destabilising. “FDI, in that case, is a more stable investment for a company and can bring in expertise plus brand equity from the foreign partner,” he added.
While Worldwide Media Ltd would be getting FDI for Filmfare Classics, Filmfare Star Beauty and Filmfare Star Homes, Infomedia India Ltd and IDG Media Pvt Ltd have diluted their stake in Cricinfo Magazine and Indian Channel World.
Of the 20 proposals awaiting approval, the largest number — 12 in all — belong to Springer India Pvt Ltd, which is looking to start the Indian edition of international publications in niche areas like orthopaedic surgery, intensive care, neurology and cancer. IDG, which has already received the approval for Indian Channel World, is seeking another for PC World.
Then there are others like VJM Media, which is looking to bring out the Indian edition of the “OK” magazine, Ezyhealth Asia Pacific Ltd for “Medical Grapevine” and Prism Books for Annals of Clinical Psychiatry and British Journal of Neurosurgery.
In the last three years, some of the larger FDI investments have been in HT Media Ltd which sold off 24.64 per cent stake for Rs 193.99 crore and Jagaran Prakash which offloaded 26 per cent equity for Rs 3.21 crore. Business Standard too sold 13.85 per cent to Financial Times, for Rs 8.37 crore.