New law proposed to bar foreign funding of media, organisations

Mumbai: The union cabinet has cleared a proposed legislation barring several organisations, including political parties, the electronic media and journalists from receiving foreign funding. The proposed bill will be introduced in Parliament in the forthcoming winter session.

The new legislation — the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill of 2006 — cleared by the cabinet at a meeting chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh, also provides for repeal of the 30-year-old Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 1976 to give more teeth to enforcement agencies to regulate donations from abroad.

The bill proposes to bar additional types of groups or persons, including organisations of a political nature "not being a political party", associations or companies engaged in production or broadcast of audio news or audio-visual news or current affairs programmes through electronic mode or any other mode of mass communication from receiving foreign funding.

This also includes correspondents or columnists, cartoonists, editors, owners of associations or companies relating to mass communication.

Amounts received from any foreign source as a fee or payment for services rendered would be excluded from the definition of foreign contributions.

The bill has been rephrased to prohibit "acceptance and utlisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interests".