Around 60 publications, across news and specialty categories, are awaiting foreign investment, according to sources.
While most of these are English newspapers/magazines, regional publications are also making a pitch for foreign investment, it is learnt.
Many of these applications, mainly specialty/technical journals, are understood to be in the process of getting the government nod. Medical journals form a large chunk of publications seeking foreign investment, sources said.
When contacted, a senior official in the information and broadcasting ministry, refused to share any information regarding the pending applications. “I cannot indicate numbers or names,” he told FE. He, however, added that very often there was a delay in clearing applications, as companies did not furnish sufficient information.
Under normal circumstances, clearances/comments from various ministries take about a month or so. Besides the administrative ministry — I&B — others consulted, through an inter-ministerial committee, include finance, commerce and industry, external affairs and home. Depending on the subject matter of the publication, comments from ministries such as health and sports could also be sought, it is learnt. In addition, companies are required to get clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
Among the media groups which have already been granted clearance for foreign investment include Business Standard, Hindustan Times, Living Media and Bennett Coleman. Among others, Bennett Coleman’s application to publish Wall Street Journal from India is still being examined. Earlier, Cybermedia’s request to publish BusinessWeek from the country was not considered by the government.
Sources indicated that till the International Herald Tribune (IHT) issue is resolved, the government may not like to deal with news publications. Hyderabad-based Midram Publications had started printing IHT from India a few months ago, stirring a controversy. As per current government norms, foreign news publications cannot be printed in India.
Foreign investment was allowed in print media around two years ago. While up to 26% foreign direct investment is allowed in news, specialty and technical journals can go up to 74% foreign investment.