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Stricter norms for foreign channels

Last updated on: November 11, 2005 19:06 IST

The government on Friday made it mandatory for channels downlinking into India to register themselves in the country to have an effective control on their operations and banned any advertising and news programmes designed specifically for Indian audiences in case of news and current affairs channels.

"No person/entity shall downlink a channel, which has not been registered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," the ministry said releasing the new downlinking guidelines.

It also went ahead with the clause of mandatory sharing of cricket rights with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

"The sports channels/sports rights management companies having TV broadcasting rights shall with immediate effect share their feed with Prasar Bharati for national and international sporting events of national importance, held in India or abroad, for terrestrial transmission and DTH broadcasting (free-to-air)," the Ministry said.

It added that these would be decided by it in consultation with Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Prasar Bharati and the rights holder concerned.

"In case of cricket events, these shall include all matches featuring India and the finals and semi-finals of international competitions," it said, and added that in cases where rights have been obtained prior to the issue of the notification, the rights holders will be obliged to share the feed for all matches featuring India and the finals.

"Revenue sharing formula of 75:25 in favour of rights holders without any minimum guarantee/opportunity cost should be applied," it said, adding that marketing would be allotted to the party which offers the maximum revenues.

Elaborating on the mandatory registration in India, the ministry said the entity applying for permission for downlinking a channel must be a company registered in India under the Indian Companies Act, irrespective of its equity structure, foreign ownership or management control.

"The applicant company must have a commercial presence in India with its principal place of business in India," it said and added that it must either own the channel it wants downlinked for public viewing, or must enjoy, for the territory of India, exclusive marketing/distribution rights, inclusive of the rights to the advertising and subscription revenues.

Also, the applicant company must have a minimum networth of Rs 1.5 crore (Rs 15 million) for downlinking one channel and Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) for every additional channel, it said.

On news and current affairs channel, the new policy says that they should "not carry any advertisements aimed at Indian viewers; that it is not designed specifically for Indian audiences; that it is a standard international channel; that it has been permitted to be telecast in the country of its uplinking by theĀ  regulatory authority of that country."

In what would hurt the interest of sports or other channels, which carry a few news bulletins, the new policy says that they would also be deemed to be a news and current affairs channel.

The ministry said channels already downlinking into India would be required to comply with all formalities of registration within 180 days from date of issue of these guidelines.

"The ministry shall grant registration to each channel for an initial period of 5 years, which shall be extendable thereafter as per extant rules," it said and added that the applicant company will have to pay a registration fee of Rs 5 lakh for each channel.

"In addition, every company shall pay an amount of Rs 1 lakh per channel per annum as the annual fee," it said.

In the event of a channel found to have been/being used for transmitting any objectionable unauthorised content, messages, or communication inconsistent with public interest or national security or failing to comply with the directions, the permission granted shall be revoked.

The company shall also be disqualified to hold any such permission for a period of five years, apart from liability for punishment under other applicable laws, the Ministry further added.

It said registration of the channel too shall be revoked and the channel shall be disqualified from being considered for fresh registration for a period of five years.

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