The government has extended the deadline, by three months, for television channels to comply with foreign investment norms. In the process, government has bought time till October 31, to decide whether foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and overseas corporate bodies (OCBs) should be permitted to fund TV channels uplinking from India.
The current norms don’t permit FIIs and OCBs in channels uplinking from India. However, foreign direct investment (FDI) up to 26 per cent is allowed. That forced broadcasters, including Zee, TV18, TV Today and Gemini, to apply for restructuring the FII and OCB components of foreign investment in their companies.
The government is yet to take a decision on the issue.
In case the information and broadcasting ministry decides to permit FIIs/OCBs in channels uplinking from India, the matter will go to the Union Cabinet.
Interestingly, government sources have clarified that C-band norms would apply to Ku-band also. While channels which we get through cable TV are on C-band, Ku-band refers to direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting. So, if a channel is uplinked from India on the DTH platform, it must comply with the 26 per cent FDI norm. Also, government permission is mandatory for uplinking any channel on DTH. Dish TV (the DTH platform for the Zee group), which has announced that it would launch a business channel on August 15, would need to seek government approval.