Nov 27, 2008

India - Govt looking to allow up to 49% FDI in FM radio

New Delhi, Nov 26 FDI limits in FM radio could soon be increased to 49 per cent for non-news channels and up to 26 per cent for news channels. News will also be allowed, according to Mr Anand Sharma, Minister of State, Information and Broadcasting.

“We are awaiting the comments from TRAI after which approval of the Cabinet shall be sought,” said Mr Sharma. “We are in the process of finalisation of Phase-III of this policy which shall expand FM radio services to 275 cities across the country. This policy will follow an even more liberal dispensation than before and would promote healthy competition to benefit the masses,” he added.

Special incentives are being considered for the expansion of FM radio coverage in the North Eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and island territories. The Minister was briefing media at a conference in the Capital. Policy initiatives for Mobile TV and Headend in the Sky were also being worked on.

Pay TV homes are projected to increase from 74 million in 2007 to 115 million in 2012, and the Government reiterated its commitment to digitisation of television. Convergence of information, communication and entertainment (ICE), or the “ICE revolution”, was posing an unprecedented regulatory challenge for the Government said the Minister. The Government is also looking at reforms in the cable laws and the digitalisation of cable services.

Content quality

Of special concern, however, was the quality of content in electronic media.

“The Supreme Court has made serious observations on this issue and we feel that there is a strong and urgent need of content regulation of some kind. We are seized of this matter and are trying to find a solution which strikes a balance between freedom of creative expression and the need of content regulation,” said Mr Sharma.

Commenting on the opening up of print media with permission for Indian edition of foreign news magazines, Mr Sharma said that the Government “mindful of the sensitivities involved in the news segment” has not allowed local content to be added by foreign publications.

According to the Ministry, the entertainment and media industry witnessed a growth of 17 per cent in the last financial, the television industry is expected to grow annually at around 22 per cent and radio industry at 200 per cent over the next 5 years.

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