Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

26 pc equity cap for news channels
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, March 18
In a major decision, the Union Cabinet tonight fixed a cap of 26 per cent on foreign investment in TV news channels seeking to uplink from India.

Briefing newspersons after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said foreign investment in news channels includes foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign institutional investment, external commercial borrowings and investment by NRIs.

However, the entertainment channels continue to be dictated by the existing policy under which all channels irrespective of their ownership or management control are permitted to uplink from India subject to fulfilment of eligibility criteria.

Ms Swaraj said the decision to put the cap on news channels was taken following a distinction being made in news and current affairs print media in which the government has put a cap of 26 per cent FDI.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had sought views of various ministries on the matter following a proposal from the foreign-owned Star TV for uplinking from Indian soil for a 24-hour news channel.

After Star TV, which ends its contract with NDTV on March 31, similar requests were made by BBC and CNBC.

The Cabinet also cleared a bill to amend the electoral law to provide for open voting instead of secret ballot in Rajya Sabha elections in a bid to check cross-voting.

It also decided to allow a person from anywhere in the country to contest the Rajya Sabha poll doing away with the present clause that a candidate has to be a resident of a particular state.

A new bill, incorporating these provisions by amending the Representation of People Act, would be introduced in the second half of the Budget session of Parliament resuming on April 7, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters.

“The Bill will substitute open ballot system in place of existing secret ballot system for elections to the Rajya Sabha,” she said adding there had been unanimity among political parties on the issue of curbing money power in polls to the Rajya Sabha.

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