Delhi: The union cabinet has decided to bring foreign
direct investment (FDI) norms for news television channels
on par with the print media. This means only those news
television channels with up to 26 per cent FDI (including
foreign institutional investments, overseas corporate
bodies and non-resident Indian funds) will be allowed
to uplink from India.
to government guidelines, channels with news bulletins
and current affairs programmes will be deemed as news
channels and those with 24-hour entertainment programmes
will be treated as entertainment channels.
entertainment channels can continue with no cap on foreign
investment, says Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma
Swaraj. This announcement will affect the Star group the
most since it has plans of launching a news channel in
April 2003, after its contract with NDTV expires on 31
Star group will now have to scout for an Indian partner
and make a fresh application for a news channel and the
Indian holding in the company applying for Star News channel
will have to be at least 74 per cent. Star News Broadcasting
is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Star group, which
is in turn wholly owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled
news channels in operation currently which are not conforming
to the equity pattern will get one year to rectify their
foreign holding position. This includes the Zee Network,
which has about 54 per cent of foreign equity, of which
28.5 per cent is foreign promoters stake.
months ago Star News Broadcasting applied for uplinking
permission for its news channel after which the government
started a rethink on the issue. There are several contentious
issues regarding the Star group. One is that it has foreign
ownership; it has its head office in Hong Kong and registered
office in British Virginia Islands.
the company has three foreign directors two American
and one British. As for the others: Zees foreign
holding is around 53.54 per cent (the foreign promoters
stake is 28.50 per cent) and NDTVs is at 16.47 per
the various news channels waiting to get uplink permission
are Star News, NDTVs Hindi news channel, TV Todays
English news channel, the Videocon groups Bharat
Business Channel and Rajat Sharmas India TV.
far, the government had permitted all channels, irrespective
of ownership, to uplink from India.