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Government Mulls Raising FDI Cap to 100 Percent for DTH, Cable Networks

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Government is considering a proposal to raise FDI limits to 100 percent in broadcasting carriage and content services, including DTH and cable networks, aimed at attracting overseas investment and improve infrastructure.

An inter-ministerial committee is considering FDI proposals, including hiking foreign direct investment cap in cable networks, direct-to-home (DTH), Mobile TV, HITS (Headend-in-the Sky Broadcasting Service) and Teleports to 100 percent, from 74 percent at present, sources said.

In case of broadcasting content services – uplinking of news and current affairs TV channels, the proposal under discussion is to raise the limit to 49 percent from the present 26 percent, they said. These proposals were mooted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in 2013. It had suggested raising FDI limit for broadcast carriage services up to 100 percent and for uplinking of news channels up to 49 percent. Increase in FDI limit will help improve the pace of digitisation of broadcasting services across India.

The inter-ministerial committee comprises officials from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Information and Broadcasting, Telecommunication and Space.

“The committee is discussing all these recommendations,” sources said, adding the panel discussed all these issues its meeting held last month.

In broadcasting content services, 26 percent foreign direct investment is permitted through government approval route. Companies which are involved in the business of broadcasting carriage services include Dish TV, Siti Cables, Hathway services and Den Networks.

In March, cable television services firm Den Networks had approved increasing limit of foreign investment in the company from existing 49 percent to 74 percent. Similarly in August, Hathway Cable had received FIPB approval to increase foreign investment limit in the firm from the existing 49 percent to 74 percent.

To attract foreign funds, the government has already relaxed FDI norms in sectors such as defence, construction and railways. It is also considering relaxing norms for rubber and coffee sector.

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