GoM to study uplinking policy

Curbs may be eased for foreign news channels

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Tuesday decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to study the uplinking policy for television channels proposed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in view of reservations over the provision to allow Doordarshan automatic access to terrestrial rights for sports events of national importance.

Though Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, while briefing mediapersons on the Cabinet meeting, did not give details, sources said that Cabinet members had reservations over the proposal that made it mandatory for the holders of telecast rights to give the terrestrial rights to Doordarshan for a price.

Telecast rights

Till now, the public broadcaster has sought court intervention to gain access to terrestrial rights of sporting events. For some time now, Doordarshan has been pressing for such legislation since it finds itself unable to cough up the "prohibitive" amounts that private players shell out to bid for telecast rights. The Ministry also proposed that Doordarshan be allowed to market the event provided it paid a share of profits to the rights holder.

The Ministry sought to ease the regulations for foreign news channels eager to uplink live from India. Instead of the existing stipulation that such channels have to seek Government clearance for every live coverage, the Ministry recommended a regime that will allow them to secure a year-long licence.

Investments by NRIs

The Ministry also proposed a greater flexibility in the regime for foreign investment in the television news channel media within the existing 26 per cent ceiling to provide more access to overseas funds for Indian entities and put the electronic and the print media on an equal footing. Instead of the prevailing policy of allowing only foreign direct investment in television news channels, the Ministry is keen on allowing investments by non-resident Indians, overseas corporate bodies, persons of Indian origin and portfolio investments by recognised foreign institutional investors within the existing ceiling.

Besides, the Ministry proposed that all television channels be given the option of uplinking through the Ku-band instead of the current stipulation that they uplink only via the C-band. As of date, only DTH services can use the Ku-band for uplinking. The GoM will be constituted by the Prime Minister and is expected to submit its report within the next couple of weeks.

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