Telecom regulator TRAI on Wednesday recommended that the foreign investment limit for broadcast carriage services like DTH may be raised to 74 per cent and that in FM radio to 26 per cent. The investment limit for news and current affairs TV channels has been retained at 26 per cent. The foreign investment limit for Local Cable Operators (LCO) will be 26 per cent. The FDI limit for broadcast carriage services ie DTH, IPTV, Mobile TV, HITS, Teleport and MSOs who are upgrading to digital and addressable environment will be 74 per cent. The foreign investment limits will be 26 per cent for News and Current Affairs TV Channels and FM Radio. While for TV and current news channels, the limit has been retained, for FM Radio the cap has been raised from 20 per cent to 26 per cent.
Maintaining the status quo, there will be no restrictions on foreign investments for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels other than news and current affairs. All Foreign investment less than 26 per cent will be through automatic route. Investments of 26 per cent and above will require prior approval of the Government. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has requested Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to review its recommendations dated April 26, 2008 on foreign investment in broadcasting sector in the light of recent changes in FDI policy.
The Consolidated FDI Policy dated March 31, 2010 issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has come into effect since April one, 2010. This policy has modified the methodology of calculation of foreign investment in Indian Companies. The Ministry had recently said that it has restarted issuing licences for new television channels, but it will not accept any fresh applications until the TRAI recommendations come. The regulator was studying the existing disparities in FDI limits in different sections of the media sector. The government had stopped issuing licences to launch new television channels a few years back as it felt that many of the pending nearly 500 applications are not serious players and hence it wanted to keep away non-serious/fly-by night players from the market. It was also forced by the limited availability of the radio waves for the industry. PTI