Foreign channels such as BBC or CNN seeking uplinking permission for live reporting will now get some reprieve. Unlike earlier, when uplinking clearances were given on a temporary basis for covering important events, the Government has decided to grant year-long licences, if the channels enter into a long-term contract with an Indian teleport.
According to highly-placed sources, this is being relaxed to simplify the process. "There have been several events in the recent months that were being covered live. Every time clearances were given. Now, these channels can have annual licences, subject to their entering into long-term arrangement with any particular teleport." The teleports would be responsible for the final content being sent from the country. "They (teleport) would have to maintain a record of the uplinked events," the sources added.
Apart from this, the Government is also planning to levy fees on broadcasters operating from the country. "With the emphasis on regulation and not on revenue, the Ministry has proposed that all the channels would be required to pay a Rs 5-lakh registration fee and Rs 1 lakh annual fee, thereafter," the sources said. This would be applicable to both news and non-news channels.
Sources further added that channels that are downlinked into the country would have to have a registered office in India, instead of having representatives, in order to bring them under the purview of the Indian laws. Also channels uplinking from India would have a minimum capitalisation of Rs 1-1.5 crore.
These recommendations form part of the uplinking and downlinking guidelines prepared by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
However, the Ministry had not proposed any other requirements on broadcasters downlinking into India, such as fixing a percentage on carriage of local content and sourcing from the country.
The sources said even as these guidelines would be notified immediately after being cleared by the Cabinet, they would be "given more teeth" through the provisions contained in the Broadcasting Authority Bill, which is likely to be submitted to the Cabinet in the Monsoon Session.