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I&B Ministry calls industry bodies on WTO Regime

10-September-2002
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I&B Ministry calls industry bodies on WTO Regime

I&B Ministry has invited IBF, CII, FICCI, Film Federation of India to discuss the issue of Audio Visual Services when it comes up in WTO round of negotiations.

Industry bodies are likely to persuade the government that while negotiating with WTO on Audio Visual Services should request for a liberal regime keeping in view India's fairly liberal treatment on Broadcasting of Foreign Channels. The only conditions that India imposes is based on quality issues that have wide social implications such as liquor and tobacco ads, hurting sentiments of people of a community (religious or otherwise), degrading women.

According to a paper released by IBF, "Negotiations for such liberal regime should be met with all countries that have a sizeable ethnic population for where there will be demand for Indian Channels. This would include all our immediate neighbors including Pakistan, Nepal etc.; South east Asian countries including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.; in the Middle East and CIS Republics; in Europe-UK; in Africa countries like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria etc; US and Canada."

IBF Release also points out that all signatories to GATT and members of WTO enjoy Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status. However Pakistan which is a member of WTO has imposed ban on Indian movies and channels. Similarly, Egypt has a fixed quota for Indian films while no such quota exists for Hollywood films. India's restriction for feature film is only based on quality as prescribed by the Film Import Policy.

"Problems that are faced by Indian Channels are numerous. These include lack of proper information regarding Indians/South Asians in terms of demographics and psychographics. There is also a lack of proper rules and regulations for ethnic broadcasters. In any case laws should be at par with laws that regulate mass broadcasters," said the release.

The meeting between the representatives of government and industry bodies is expected today.

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