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Live reporting: Foreign channels get leeway

Last updated on: June 24, 2005 20:36 IST
The government has decided to exempt foreign news channels from seeking permission for live reporting from India by issuing year-long licences, apart from imposing a small fee on all broadcasters operating in the country.

These recommendations form part of the uplinking and downlinking guidelines the information and broadcasting ministry has prepared, highly-placed official sources said on Friday.

"With the emphasis on regulation and not on revenue, the ministry has proposed that all the channels would be required to pay a Rs 5 lakh registration fee and a Rs 1 lakh annual fee thereafter," the sources said.

This, they said, was applicable to both news and non-news channels. "Also, channels which are uplinking from abroad would need to have a registered office in India, instead of having representatives," they said, adding that this was being proposed to make them accountable under Indian laws.

Giving details on exempting foreign news channels like BBC and CNN to seek permission for reporting live from the country, the sources said this was being done as they had to regularly take clearance for various important events, which was a difficult process.

"Now they can have annual licences, subject to their entering into long-term arrangement with any particular teleport," they said, adding that the teleports would be responsible for the final content being sent from the country.

"They (teleport) will have to maintain a record of three months," the sources added. They said that while the uplinking guidelines had already been sent to the cabinet, the downlinking guidelines would be submitted within the next fortnight.

The clause to ask broadcasters downlinking into India to compulsorily register themselves in the country was included to make them more accountable.

However, the sources added that the ministry had not proposed any other requirements on broadcasters downlinking into India, like fixing a percentage on carriage of local content and sourcing from the country.

The sources said even as these guidelines would be notified immediately after being cleared by the cabinet, they would be "given more teeth" through the provisions contained in the Broadcasting Authority Bill, which is likely to be submitted to the cabinet in the monsoon session.

On other issues, the Bill would contain provisions, which would make it mandatory on all broadcasters to share feed of events of national interest, like cricket, with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.  "Prasar Bharati will no doubt pay a fee for this," they added.

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