Government reviewing FDI norms for broadcasting sector

Mumbai: The government has started the process of reviewing foreign direct investment (FDI) norms for various segments, following recommendations of broadcasting sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Telecom regulator TRAI, which also monitors the broadcasting sector, has recommended a review of the FDI policy in a holistic manner, minister of information and broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told the Lok Sabha.

The government has initiated reviewing the existing FDI norms based on TRAI''s recommendations and in consultation with the concerned ministries, he said.

The idea was to bring about greater consistency in the rules for various segments within the broadcasting sector and also in view of the likely convergence in future between telecommunication and broadcasting sectors, he added.

Currently, FDI of up to 20 per cent is allowed in FM radio and direct-to-home (DTH) services. The limit of FDI in television news broadcasting segment is 26 per cent, in cable services 49 per cent and in telecom sector 74 per cent. However, in case of internet service providers, and non-news television broadcasters 100 per cent FDI is allowed.

Dasmunsi said the government also plans to bring out policy guidelines to regulate the content shown by service providers on internet protocol television (IPTV).

The government, meanwhile, has signed agreements with private broadcasters to operationalise 122 FM radio channels by March 2008, he said, adding, the government has invited tenders for allotment of 97 vacant channels.

The government, he said, is also planning to amend the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, to bring it in line with the changing times.