Broadcasting Bill in India: Introduction in Parliament Delayed
The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting India, has recently hinted that though the Cabinet Note on the Broadcasting Bill would be finalized before the winter session, the same may not be introduced in Parliament due to the heavy pending business, including 40 bills.
The broad outline of the proposed bill would be as per the previous draft. The previous draft was circulated by the government in 1996, for the views of the industry, consumer groups, legal experts, etc., and their submissions would form part of the cabinet note.
Recently a meeting was held on 29th October, 1998 for finalizing the new draft of the Broadcasting Bill and the same was attended by government officials of concerned Ministries, industry representatives from BBC, NBC/CNBC, Star, Sony, Zee, Discovery, MTV, Turner Broadcasting, etc. The discussions of interested parties have yielded new ideas on major issues, including the following:
Direct-to-home and Cable regulation;
Increasing the permissible limit of cross-media holding from 20%
The Mandatory requirement of up-linking from India leading to an
industry demand for an increase in the 20% equity holding limit proposed
in the bill. The Government will shortly announce the second and third
phase limit of foreign equity holding;
Increase in the foreign holding limit from the presently
proposed limit of 49%;
Foreign investment, especially in view the capital intensive
nature of the broadcasting industry, there are demands to facilitate
adequate money flows, from alternate sources, such as banks, public
issues, short term commercial borrowing, Global Depository Receipt,
Convergence of the Internet and Broadcasting in India.
If a clue were to be taken from a recent government decision of granting licenses to private internet service providers, then it would be safe to presume that the Broadcasting Bill will shortly be in Parliament, if not in this session then in the next. In recent times there is also increasing pressure from the industry and consumer groups to enact the Broadcasting law, especially because of the pre-eminent position of cable operators, who have strongly organized themselves in a short period of time and hence enjoy a unreasonable bargaining position.
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