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FDI in Print: No easy transition from books to magazine for foreign publishers

03-December-2002
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FDI in Print: No easy transition from books to magazine for foreign publishers

It’s not going to be an easy transition from books to magazines for foreign publishing houses operating in India. If any of these publishing houses plan to bring out foreign journals and magazines, they would have to adhere to the sectoral norms on foreign direct investment (FDI) stipulated by the Government.

Currently the Government permits up to 74 per cent foreign investment in the publishing business and up to 100 per cent in trading companies primarily engaged in export of books. But if these companies wish to get into publication of magazines, they would have to seek fresh approvals.

However, Macmillan, Penguin and several international publishing houses have already set shop in the country with majority foreign shareholding. In the guidelines for FDI in print media, the Government has said that clearances would be given on a case-by-case basis after thorough scrutiny.

Publishers feel that the investments for publishing foreign magazines would be much higher than that required for bringing our books..

The Government, however, is taking a very cautious approach even with respect to FDI in the publishing business. It recently rejected a proposal by the UK-based publishing house Taylor & Francis Group UK which had proposed to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India for undertaking publishing and printing of scientific and technical books and journals in the country.

The company had also planned to set up a publishing base and invest around Rs 3.4 crore over a period of five years after commencement of commercial operations of its Indian subsidiary.

Currently the organised publishing industry in India accounts for more than Rs 1,600 crore revenues annually which include around Rs 300 crore exports. Though no specific figure is available for the numerous small publishers spread across the country, the industry estimates that the total national turnover of the domestic publishing industry will be in excess of Rs 2,000 crore.

It is also estimated that India currently has 13,000 publishers bringing out 60,000 new titles each year.

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