TRAI recommends hike in FDI limit for broadcasters

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which is the nodal regulatory body for both telecom and broadcasting sectors, has recommended raising the foreign direct investment (FDI) limits for various segments of the broadcasting sector in India.

In a nutshell, it has said the FDI limit for the broadcast carriage services should be enhanced to 100 per cent and that for uplinking of news and current affairs TV channels and FM radio services should be raised to 49 per cent.

TRAI has also recommended that the approval process through Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) be streamlined and made time-bound. FIPB is the nodal government body for monitoring foreign investments in the country.

Within broadcast carriage services, for DTH, HITS, IPTV, mobile TV, teleports besides cable networks or multi system operators (MSOs) operating at national, state or district level and undertaking upgrade of networks towards digitisation and addressability, it has recommended up to 100 per cent FDI. It has said FDI up to 49 per cent should be via the automatic approval route and beyond that through FIPB approval.

Currently, these services have 74 per cent FDI ceiling of which 49 per cent is through automatic route and above that level with FIPB nod. For cable networks not undertaking digitisation the FDI ceiling stands at 49 per cent which is also recommended to be raised to 100 per cent.

Within TV content services, 100 per cent FDI is allowed for downloading of TV channels and uplinking of non-news and current affairs channels, subject to FIPB approval and TRAI has said this should be maintained.

But for uplinking of news and current affairs channels, the current limit of FDI is 26 per cent through FIPB approval. TRAI has suggested this be raised to 49 per cent.

For FM radio business too, TRAI has suggested that the current 26 per cent FDI limit with FIPB approval be raised to 49 per cent.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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