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News channels jump on FII hopes

01-January-2005
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News channels jump on FII hopes

On New Year's Eve, it was party time for shares of listed television news channels. Prices of Prannoy Roy-promoted NDTV Ltd, TV Today and Television Eighteen India Ltd rose by 19.99 per cent, 9.2 per cent and 3.04 per cent respectively in anticipation of the Government permitting foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to invest in these companies.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry had granted news channels wishing to uplink from India time till December 31 to comply with the guidelines. However, industry sources expect the Government to grant another extension.

"The Government has not yet indicated anything to us and any change in the FII norms would have to get Cabinet approval," they said.

Analysts tracking the media sector said, "The I&B Ministry has been looking into the possibility of allowing FIIs to invest in television companies after it received requests from channels tapping the capital markets. An announcement was anticipated today, hence the spurt in share prices."

Only recently, NDTV had issued a cautionary note to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on the issue of FII interest. The shareholding pattern of the company as on September 30, 2004 indicated that FIIs hold 3.05 per cent stake.

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