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Govt ups the ante on foreign channels

14-August-2004
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Govt ups the ante on foreign channels

In a crackdown on foreign television channels, the government is likely to ban channels that are not registered in India from beaming their signals to the country.

According to officials, apart from a mandatory registration with the government, channels will have to set up an Indian office or enter into an agreement with a local company to beam signals to the country. Sources said the provisions would be a part of the proposed downlinking policy.

Channels that do not confirm to the norms will not be allowed to be distributed by cable network companies and other television channel distribution systems like direct-to-home or broadband networks. Officials said the requirement was necessary to ensure that the channels conformed with Indian laws.

Channels beamed to India will also have to go by the norms for content and distribution issues. At present, cable network companies can distribute channels that are not registered in India.

The information and broadcasting ministry has issued directions in the past to cable companies to block channels that do not conform with the norms.

Another important proposal is the compulsory sharing of the feed of events of national importance by private channels with Prasar Bharati.

As per the proposed law, the government will list the events of national importance that the telecast right owners will have to share with Prasar Bharati.

However, this will not come for free. The government will set up an arbitrator or a regulator for this purpose, which will set a fee that the national broadcaster will have to pay to the telecast right holder.

The downlinking policy is also expected to make it mandatory for television channels to offer the feed to all networks, including direct-to-home on a non-discriminatory basis.

This has been done to ensure that channels give signals to platforms belonging to competitors and do not block services.

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