press trust of india
New Delhi, 21 July
The Home Ministry has strongly opposed any move to increase the FDI cap in broadcasting and print media, saying allowing more foreign investment in the sensitive sectors may compromise the country’s security.
Apprehending undue influence by big global players, the Home Ministry said opening up of current affairs TV channels, newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs may lead to meddling in India’s domestic affairs and politics, official sources said.
Strongly favouring control of media houses by Indians, the Ministry said increase of FDI in broadcasting and print media may also allow foreign players to launch propaganda campaign during any national crisis as well as when interests of any particular country is harmed through any government
decision.
Currently, the sectoral cap for FDI in FM radio, uplinking news and current affairs TV channels and in print media is 26 per cent and the Commerce Ministry has proposed to raise it to 49 per cent through the automatic route.
The Home Ministry also said that big foreign media players with vested interests may try to fuel fire during internal or external disturbances and also can encourage political instability in the country through their publications or broadcasting outlets, the sources said.
Following Home Ministry’s strong objections, a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 16 July did not clear the Commerce Ministry’s proposal for increasing FDI in broadcasting and print media to 49 per cent through automatic route, the sources said.
Taking cue from the Home Ministry’s strong objection to hike FDI in broadcasting and print media, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry too has sought advice from TRAI and Press Council of India on the
matter.
The Information & Broadcasting ministry had earlier informed DIPP that a consultation process with the TRAI and PCI would take some time so the existing limits of FDI caps and entry routes may continue as they are.
Officials said there was a view that TRAI, being the broadcasting sector regulator, had to be consulted on account of the likely impact of the proposal on the sector.
Earlier in 2012, foreign investment limits in broadcasting sector were revised based on TRAI recommendations.
The proposals from the home minstry include increase of FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in print media, FM radio.
Uplinking news and current affairs channels and to hundred per cent in broadcasting carriage services and printing of specialised magazines and facsimile editions of foreign
newspapers are also included in the proposals.