Given the divergent and opposing views of the industry regarding the Arvind Mayaram Committee’s recommendations on foreign direct investment (FDI) in media, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) held a meeting on June 29, 2013 in New Delhi with industry stakeholders.
The meeting saw media honchos and MIB officials debating on the proposal of the Ministry of Finance regarding revision of FDI caps in various segments in broadcasting sector. As is known, the Arvind Mayaram Committee has recommended raising the foreign investment limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in sectors such as print and television media (news), and FM radio.
The meeting was attended by KVL Narayan Rao, President, News Broadcasting Association; Man Jit Singh, President, Indian Broadcasting Foundation; Ashok Mansukhani, President, MSO Alliance; Tarun Katial, Senior Vice President, Association of Radio Operators for India; Harit Nagpal, President, DTH Association; and Kartikey Sharma, President, Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India, among others. Maheshwar Peri, Chairman, Pathfinder Publishing India and R Rajmohan, Publisher, Open magazine represented the print fraternity at the meeting. Representing the Government were Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari and Uday Kumar Varma, who has just retired as the Secretary, MIB.
The stakeholders expressed their diversified views on the Government move to increase the percentage of foreign direct investment. While some of them supported the initiative, a few were against it.
Talking to exchange4media after the meeting, Varma said, “The meeting actually was conducted with the intention of illustrating the views of various stakeholders of the industry. The discussions were very fruitful and very extensive. Diverse viewpoints emerged; it was quite clear that there is still no unanimity over this issue. While some people were strongly in favour of raising the cap, certain other sections were equally strongly opposed to the idea. We have requested the stakeholders to send their views articulated on this issue in writing to us as soon as possible so that we can have a look at them and take a call on the proposal suggested by the stakeholders on raising the FDI caps in various sectors of broadcasting.”
Maheshwer Peri, who supports increasing the FDI cap, said, “With the digital revolution, all content is freely available on the internet. It will be retrograde to put artificial barriers. Besides, there is not much control difference between 26 per cent and 49 per cent. Legally, there is nothing changing in terms of control between 26 per cent and 49 per cent.”
He also pointed out, “The PRB Act provides enough safeguards of the editor, publisher, and owner being Indian.”
Meanwhile, the stakeholders have been asked to submit their written comments by July 3, 2013.
Industry divided on FDI in media; extreme views come to the fore