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3-month reprieve for news channels

04-January-2005
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3-month reprieve for news channels

Television news channels, with foreign institutional investment, can continue to uplink from India for another three months. As per uplinking guidelines, while 26% foreign direct investment is allowed in news channels, FIIs are not allowed to pick up any stake.

The channels, which are expected to benefit from the three-month extension include NDTV, CNBC, Zee News, Sab TV, Jain TV and some regional players. While CNBC and Zee had restructured their equity to some extent, the government has not yet approved it.

The government had earlier set a deadline of December 31, 2004 for news channels to comply with foreign investment norms. Confirming the third extension, information and broadcasting ministry secretary Navin Chawla said the measure has been taken in the wake of tsunami.

“All news channels should be able to uplink at this point,” he said. Mr Chawla was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a tsunami briefing. When asked if the three-month extension was an indication that the uplinking norms will be revised to make room for FIIs, Mr Chawla said, “This has no bearing on a decision on FIIs.”

The government will take a call on whether to allow FIIs, separately.

The industry expects the government to relax the guidelines, and allow FIIs in news channels. In fact, share prices of some of the news channels rose on Friday in anticipation of a more liberal regime.

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