The government on Friday asked the Indians living abroad to invest in media and entertainment to "fortify our links" while harnessing "exciting business opportunities" and sought their cooperation in fighting the "serious problem" of piracy.
Detailing the relaxation of government control over print and electronic media in the recent past, Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj told a gathering of Indian Diaspora in New Delhi that joint ventures in the fields of entertainment and media have become "possible, attractive and simpler".
Foreign firms can set up multiplexes, and can also finance and produce films, she said addressing the 'First Pravasi Bharatiya Divas'.
Foreign investment up to 49 per cent is permitted in cable TV, Direct-to-Home and teleports, Swaraj said, adding for the FM Radio, the foreign investment limit is 20 per cent.
She said 100 per cent FDI on automatic approval route is permitted in films and advertising sectors.
"By investing in India, you will further fortify our links while at the same time harnessing exciting business opportunities," the minister said.
Stating that the government had recently relaxed control over print and electronic media, she said that Doordarshan was looking for distributors abroad, which may interest them.
Swaraj said 77 TV channels were currently uplinking from India and permission had been given for setting up of 16 teleports.
For satellite TV, the Cable Act has been amended recently to empower the consumer to pay for only those channels they choose to watch, she said.
The FM radio sector has been opened for private participation and private FM radio stations have commenced from Lucknow, Bangalore, Indore, Ahmedabad, Pune and five stations from Mumbai, the minister said.
She said private FM radio service is expected to commence shortly from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bhubaneshwar, Jabalpur, Coimbatore, Cuttack, Vishakapatnam and Tirunelveli.
Further expansion of private FM radio service is also visualised and for this, plans are to be finalised in the current year, she said.
Swaraj said the NDA (National democratic Alliance) government had accorded the status of industry to the entertainment sector and increasingly, these enterprises were becoming corporatised.
The exports of the entertainment industry from India, which stood at $40 million in 1998, had crossed $180 million in 2001, she said."We hope the Diaspora and the Indian leaders in this sector will promote joint ventures," she said.