'Govt considering revision of FDI limit in broadcasting sector'

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (UNI) The government is considering revising the foreign investment limits in various subsectors of broadcasting, a senior government official said today.

Secretary (I and B) Asha Swarup said here the government was of the opinion that the composite limits for FDI and FII, both direct and indirect, can be kept at 74 per cent in the case of infrastructure and platform services such as teleports, DTH, HITS and satellite radio.

Already 100 per cent foreign investment is allowed in the case of non-news and current affairs channels and channels permitted under the Downlinking policy.

However, no changes are proposed in the 26 per cent limit for news and current affairs channels and 49 per cent for cable operators.

On Conditional Access System (CAS), the official said the government at present was in the process of analysing the impact and success of the CAS implementation in the four metros so that appropriate lessons can be drawn for its further extension and if need be suitable improvements can be made in the present regime to make it more acceptable to stakeholders. The Government has since received three survey and evaluation reports on CAS.

Ms Swarup, in her keynote address at CASBAA India Satellite Forum, said there is need for a better enforcement mechanism at the local level to ensure that pay channels are made available only in an encrypted format and violations if any at the level of MSOs and cable operators are punished and dealt with severely. For improved penetration, she suggested low cost set top boxes.

The official remarked that the group on digitalisation and introduction of CAS has selected fifty-five cities which include all the cities with a million plus population, some cities located in the proximity of the cities to the existing CAS cities. It has also included all the state capitals, which would not come under any of the above criteria. The Group has also suggested a three-year roll out plan ending September 2011, for these fifty-five cities.

She said price cap in the CAS areas are not for-ever and can be reviewed at an appropriate time. The fact that there has been a substantial growth in the number of both free to air and pay channels with over 300 private channels now and about 80 more applications under consideration with applications not only from the existing but also new players is an indication that despite the tariff regime the business of broadcasting is lucrative.

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