The Mid-day Group’s claim that it has secured the permission of the Reserve Bank of India to offer shares in the company to Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) when it enters the capital market with a public issue has raised eyebrows in the Union ministries of finance and information & broadcasting.
Both the ministries said that they were unaware of any RBI decision to allow the FIIs to enter the print media and that they would look into the matter instantly. The reason why the Mid-Day group’s claim has provoked such responses from officials is that successive governments at the Centre have clearly stated that they oppose the entry of foreigners in the print media.
Media observers believe that allowing FIIs to acquire equity is equivalent to a back door entry for foreigners into the print media. They fear that the distinction that is sought to be made between FDI (by overseas corporate groups) and foreign portfolio investment (by FIIs) is little more than an attempt to blur the real issue. The government has unequivocally stated its stand against FDI in the print media—a stand which finds favour across the political spectrum.