Govt weighing proposal to allow 100% FDI in DTH, cable networks: report

The Narendra Modi government is considering a proposal to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in broadcasting carriage and content services, including DTH and cable networks, to 100 per cent as part of its drive to cater to more overseas investors looking for business opportunities in India.

At present, foreign investors can invest up to 74 per cent in services like cable networks, direct-to-home (DTH), Mobile TV, HITS (Headend-in-the Sky Broadcasting Service) and Teleports.

An inter-ministerial committee is reviewing an earlier proposal of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), including an increase in foreign direct investment limit in such services to 100 per cent, reports quoting official sources said.

The inter-ministerial committee comprises officials from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Information and Broadcasting, Telecommunication and Space, reports said.

In cases involving uplinking of broadcasting content services of news and current affairs TV channels, Trai had proposed to raise the limit to 49 per cent from the current 26 per cent.

At present, foreign investors are allowed to invest up to 26 per cent in broadcasting content services through government approval route.

Trai had, in 2013, suggested raising FDI limit for broadcast carriage services up to 100 per cent and for uplinking of news channels up to 49 per cent in order to increase the pace of digitisation of broadcasting services across India.

Broadcasting carriage services companies such as Dish TV, Siti Cables, Hathway services and Den Networks are looking to raise foreign equity as part of their technology updation and expansion plans.

Cable television services firm Den Networks had, in March, approved increasing foreign investment limit in the company from 49 per cent to 74 per cent while Hathway Cable last month received FIPB approval to increase foreign investment limit in the company to 74 per cent.

The Modi government has already relaxed FDI norms in sectors such as defence, construction and railways in order to provide greater access to foreign capital. It is also reported to be considering relaxing norms for rubber and coffee plantation sectors.