The Union Cabinet on September 18 gave its approval to India editions of foreign magazines publishing news and comments on public news, that is, periodicals falling in the news and current affairs category. Publishers of such editions would continue to be eligible for attracting 26 per cent foreign investment. The decision would provide Indian readers access to foreign magazines at cheaper rates in comparison to the same magazines imported at much higher rates.
The Government has laid down some broad parameters for granting such permission.
Permission to publish such editions would be granted only to those Indian companies which are registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956. The Indian companies would be allowed to enter into financial arrangements, such as royalty payment arrangements, etc., with the owners of the foreign magazines. Permission would be conditional on at least three-fourth of the directors on the Board of Directors of the applicant Indian company and all key executives and editorial staff being resident Indians.
The title of the magazine would have to be verified and subsequently registered by the Indian company from the Registrar of Newspapers for India.
The content would be allowed to be up to 100 per cent identical to the foreign magazine concerned and the India publisher would be free to add local content. The Indian publisher would also be free to insert local advertisements.
Permission would be granted for publication of only such magazines that are being published in the country of their origin. In addition, they should have been published continuously for a period of at least five years, and the publication must have a circulation of at least 10,000 paid copies for the last financial year in the country of its origin.
Reacting to the Government decision, Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today, said, “We are very happy with the decision and welcome it, but are hoping that the FDI cap would be raised from 26 per cent to 46 per cent. This will bring in more international titles for consumers in India and more international expertise, and eventually advertisers, publishers and consumers, all will benefit from it.”
Maheshwer Peri, Publisher & President, Outlook Group, said, “It was a long standing demand that has been fulfilled. I am glad that the commercial barriers are removed, which means that magazines would be commercially viable and much more economical.”
Welcoming the decision, Vinod Mehta, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook Group, said that it would bring down the cover price.”
According to Sandeepan Deb, Editor, RPG Publications, “This is the next logical step for the economic growth of the country. Foreign investors will come in and bring global knowledge. The way multinationals can invest in other industries, so why not media? It is a sensible, reasonable and correct decision, and we are very happy.”