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New Downlinking Policy: Foreign news and sports channels to face the red

12-November-2005
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New Downlinking Policy: Foreign news and sports channels to face the red

After amending the uplinking policy, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on November 11 notified stricter norms for downlinking television channels in India. According to the guidelines, all foreign channels need government clearance to be downlinked in India for public viewing. Foreign channels, which are already on air in India, have to comply with the new norms within 180 days from the date of issue of the guidelines.

Under the new guidelines, foreign news and current affairs channels which include the sports channels will be permitted for downlinking in India only if they follow some additional conditions:

a) That it does not carry any advertisements aimed at Indian viewers

b) That it is not designed specifically for Indian audiences

c) That it is a standard international channel

d) That it has been permitted to be telecast in the country of its uplinking by the regulatory authority of that country

Channels like CNN, BBC and the sports channels will now have to seek the Ministry’s permission to carry India-centric advertisements, which the Ministry will allow on a case-to-case basis.

The new downlinking policy also inscribes the same policies for sports content sharing with Prasar Bharti as that in the amended uplinking policy under which sports channels are obliged to share sporting events of national and international importance, held in India or abroad, for terrestrial transmission and DTH broadcasting.

The I&B Ministry shall grant registration to each channel for an initial period of five years. The applicant company shall pay registration fee of Rs 5 lakh for each channel, which will be payable for the initial registration for a period of five years, which could be extended. In addition, every company will pay an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh per channel per annum as the annual fee.

Primarily, the broadcasting company has to be registered in India under the Indian Companies Act and should have commercial presence in the country. The company should also have a minimum net worth of Rs 1.5 crore for downlinking one channel in India and for every additional channel, this would go up by Rs 1 crore. It should also keep 90-day record of the content it is airing into the country. For any upgradation or expansion, the company has to obtain prior approval of the I&B Ministry.

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