The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has put on hold its plan to start an Indian edition until the government policy towards print media turned more conducive.
WSJ had plans to start an Indian edition by partnering Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, publishers of the Times of India and the Economic Times among other publications.
Raju Narisetti, editor, The Wall Street Journal, Europe, said the current media policy, particularly on print, was not conducive for the WSJ to start an Indian edition. Narisetti said this at the sidelines of the Sustainable Development Summit organised by Teri in the capital today.
“The current rules appears to be influenced by various interests groups. It makes an artificial distinction between foreign newspapers and foreign television,” he told Business Standard.
Though foreign papers are allowed to start Indian editions with a 26 per cent cap on the foreign partner’s equity, certain rules restrict them from carrying advertisements of local (Indian) companies.
“Papers cannot be run just by circulation. Advertisements are essential for this business, without which it (the WSJ) may cost Rs 50, so to speak,” he said.
“If the official reason for such a policy is about the western influence then why is BBC and CNN here. Television is even watched by people who don’t read newspapers,” Narisetti said.
The current policy allows foreign news channels to carry advertisements of local companies, while foreign papers can only print a facsimile editions without any advertisements of local companies.
He said WSJ was not keen on a restricted content sharing programme, where a page of WSJ news can be carried by the local Indian partner in their own publication. The paper wishes to have a full fledged Indian edition, possibly Mumbai and Delhi editions to start with.