The government is set to ban foreign investment in television news agencies operating in the country. They will also be required to pay an annual licence fee, to be prescribed by the Wireless Protocol Office, and a royalty fee, for spectrum use.
Officials said the information and broadcasting ministry was expected to come out with the guidelines on this soon.
The ban on foreign investment will bring television news agencies at par with other wire services such as Press Trust of India and United News of India in which foreign investment is banned under a Cabinet Resolution of 1956.
Television news agencies operating in India need to be companies incorporated in India and cannot offer programmes to the public directly. If they want to sell programmes to an Indian channel, they will need a registered office in the country.
The proposed regulations bar television news channels from receiving content from agencies that do not conform to the conditions.
As a precursor of sorts to the policy, the government has recently blocked Reuters from setting up a wholly owned Indian arm to launch a news agency business in India. This is because the information and broadcasting ministry feels that Reuters’ application has not been in conformity with the norms.
However, it has recently allowed US-based Bloomberg to set up a news gathering arm in India for its broadcasting operations.
Bloomberg provides financial news to television channels across the globe. The Indian arm of Bloomberg plans to produce local programmes for its global clients.
Indian television news agencies are expected to provide necessary facilities at their own cost for monitoring of programmes or content by the representatives of the ministry of information and broadcasting, or any other government agency, as and when required.
The government has set strict conditions for the channels. Any violation will lead to withdrawal of permission to operate in the country.
Television news agencies can set up their own uplinking facilities or use hubs and teleport facilities of other operators.