Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has asked TRAI to fix an FDI ceiling of 74 per cent for all carriage services, including stand alone mobile TV service providers, to attract investment for speedy growth of mobile TV service in India. The Association of Unified Access Providers of India (AUSPI) has also asked TRAI to continue with the present FDI limit of 74 per cent for unified access service licensees providing mobile TV service.
The Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI), too, maintained that FDI should be the same for all telecom and television broadcasting companies. Broadcasting players, including direct-to-home (DTH) service providers like DishTV and Tata Sky have also sought a level-playing field as far as FDI is concerned.
DishTV in a statement said, “In addition to the FDI guidelines, since creation of content for mobile TV is a specialised business, only those broadcasters who have experience in running channels belonging to different genres and languages over the past 10 years should be considered as eligible licensees.”
DishTV, in its input to TRAI, said that FDI in mobile TV services should be on par with DTH, where foreign investment was capped at 49 per cent, but the FDI ceiling was only 20 per cent. Tata Sky also stressed on a level-playing field across platforms as far as FDI was concerned.
SET also supported relaxation of FDI limits to ensure a sustained investment in infrastructure, which was critical to meet the rapid growth necessary to satisfy increasing consumer demand for these services in India.
Zee pointed out that the matter of IPTV licensing was under consideration by TRAI, and by virtue of the present legal position on the matter it was quite clear that IPTV would be a licensed service permitted only to those operators who followed the FDI guidelines and ownership conditions / criteria for this media sector service. The same position held true for mobile TV as well.
STAR officials said, “We agree with the observation made by TRAI previously that the Government should undertake a complete review of the FDI policy for the various sub-sectors in telecommunications and broadcasting so that there is consistency in policy and a level playing field for competing technologies. However, under the current framework and policy, it should be in line with the FDI permitted under the telecom industry.”
The Department of Space (DoS), too, has come out strongly in support of 74 per cent FDI cap in mobile TV. DoS in a statement said, “It (FDI) should be consistent with most of the telecom services in this convergent era. The FDI cap in all services (telecom and broadcasting) should be aligned. And the trend is to fix it at 74 per cent.”
The FDI cap at present is different for DTH, cable and telecom services, though all these technologies are used to offer media content.
Bharti also recommended an FDI ceiling of 74 per cent for standalone mobile TV service providers to attract foreign investment and to maintain parity with telecom licensees providing mobile TV service under UAS/CMTS licenses. BPL Mobile also called for FDI up to 74 per cent.