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Govt plans to hike FDI limit to 74% for DTH: Singh

Bapun Raz

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Govt plans to hike FDI limit to 74% for DTH: Singh The government feels the foreign investment for
services and infrastructure in the television sector
can be increased to 74 per cent while there are no
plans to change the limit in the TV news and
current affairs segment, Information and
Broadcasting secretary Sushma Singh said. Singh said the policy on Headend-In-The-Sky was
being hurried since two-thirds of the viewers were
still getting their TV through cable operators.
"We are of the opinion that the composite limits for
FDI (foreign direct investment) can be kept at 74
per cent in case of DTH, HITS, teleport, and satellite radio (currently there is no FDI cap in case of
satellite radio). No changes are proposed in the 26
per cent limit for news and current affairs channels.
But to protect the interests of local cable operators
perhaps one can think of retaining the FDI limits at
49 per cent for a local cable operator, while the limit may be raised to 74 per cent for MSOs," Singh said
here today while addressing the second Assocham
global summit on entertainment and media.
While the policy on HITS was on the anvil, the I&B
Ministry was actively considering the policy on
mobile television. Singh also said that the regulatory format for
digitalisation was being worked out. While the cost
of converting analogue to digital all over the
country could be as high as Rs 640 billion in India,
HITS could help reduce this cost.
The ministry, she said, is also extending conditional access system (Cas) areas to the remaining parts of
Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Currently, only the
southern parts of these cities and the entire city of
Chennai have this facility. Piracy being a major problem for both TV and
cinema, Singh said that the government was
considering an Optic Disc law and had also
approached the Human Resources Development
Ministry for amending the Copyright Act and giving
more penal powers for its implementation. Direct to Home (DTH) TV was expected to rise to
cover 115 million TV homes by 2012 at an annual
CAGR of 48 per cent. The government was hoping to increase the
number of FM channels to 780 in 80 cities over the
next few years. She said the government had been taking several
steps for providing a level playing field to all
stakeholders and had succeeded in this. Committed
to increasing broadband in the country, she said
the expeditious clearance of the IPTV Policy was a
step in this direction to give greater interactivity and create diverse business platforms. Referring to cinema, she noted that the Industrial
Development Bank of India (IDBI) still preferred to
give loans to corporates and, therefore, the film
industry should come forward with greater
corporatisation. Though the number of people employed by the
Indian film industry directly or indirectly was 5.1
million, the number of cinema houses had fallen to
12,548 which was very low for a country like India.
She hoped the entertainment tax which was down
to almost 50 per cent in most states would come down to just 25 per cent. The participation of India on the foreign scene was
expected to grow by 19 per cent to Rs 22 billion by
2012. The Government was setting up a National Centre
of Excellence in Animation and Gaming which was
at the stage of project report. Nasscom had been
asked to give a model for teaching institutions since
there was a proliferation of such institutes. The Film and Television Institute of India in Pune
was being converted into a global film school. Singh released a report by Ernst and Young on the
future of entertainment in India titled ‘ What’ s Next ’ . Farokh Balsara, who is partner with E&Y, presented a report on the occasion. He referred to
some clear trends like cross-media acquisitions,
joint ventures between Indian and foreign
companies, and easier access to capital for
investment. Motion Pictures Association of America President
Mike Ellis listed several cases where Hollywood
majors had collaborated with Indian filmmakers,
and also of Anil Ambani ’ s Reliance which had invested in Hollywood. He referred to link-ups like
that of Sony for Saawariya, Walt Disney for Roadside
Romeo, Fox Searchlight with UTV for three films,
Fox Star with Vipul Shah, Viacom and Network 18
for more than 20 films, Warner and Ramesh Sippy
for From Chandni Chowk to China and some with filmmakers in south India. Time Broadband Services Ltd MD & CEO Sujata Dev
said the global meltdown and piracy had affected
the entertainment industry and it was time for the
government to wake up and act.