The Group of Ministers (GoM) on print media today recommended allowing printing of facsimile editions of foreign newspapers in India and hiking the syndication levels in Indian newspapers.
While the Group has not recommended any increase in the foreign direct investment levels from the present 26 per cent, it has favoured permitting foreign institutional investors to make investments within this ceiling.
"The GoM has finalised its recommendations and will be sending it to the Cabinet in the next two-three weeks," sources in the Group said.
The GoM, which was set up last year for a "comprehension review" of the overall print media policy, felt that in the present scenario where there is a proliferation of foreign news channels and high Internet access, the current restrictions could be ineffective.
However, for reprinting of foreign newspapers, the Group is in favour of putting in place certain safeguards. Sources said that some of the conditions included could be that neither locally produced content nor local advertising would be permitted.
Also, a local entity would have to be incorporated in India for the venture to comply with Indian law.
"These should not have very specific Indian content and advertisements," the sources said.
Meanwhile, it is also learnt that the Group is likely to recommend a hike in syndication levels in Indian newspapers from the present 7.5 per cent to around 15-20 per cent.
Today's meeting was attended by the Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, who heads the GoM, the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, the Law Minister, Mr H.R. Bharadwaj, the IT and Communications Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, and the I&B Minister, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy.
The Cabinet had, last year, decided to set up a GoM after the International Herald Tribune (IHT) started printing and publishing the newspaper from the Deccan Chronicle Press in Kondapur near Hyderabad by T. Venkat Ram Reddy on behalf of Midram Publications Private Ltd.
The Government had then felt that this was in violation of the existing guidelines and wanted to plug the loopholes.
The I&B Ministry had then proposed amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act (PRB), 1867 to empower the Government to deal with the printing and publication of IHT from India.
It felt that the publication of IHT violates the guidelines prescribed for syndication and the 1955 Cabinet Resolution, and hence asked the publisher to stop publishing the newspaper.