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Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Indian boost for broadcasters
Satellite dishes outside a television company office
Only 100% Indian-owned companies are allowed uplinking now
The Indian Government has announced its much-awaited broadcasting policy which will allow all television channels to uplink from the country, irrespective of their equity stake.

Introducing the policy in parliament on Wednesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said the new policy would bring more television channel's within the country's broadcasting codes.

Until now, only 100% Indian-owned companies have been allowed to uplink directly from India.

India's Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley
Jaitley: The new policy will bring more TV channels under our broadcasting code
The others, including leading satellite TV broadcasters like Zee and Star TV, have had to send pre-recorded tapes to Hong Kong or Singapore for uplinking.

Some others had to depend on the Indian national broadcaster or the Department of Science for satellite links.

New policy

"All television channels irrespective of their equity holding, ownership or management control will be permitted to uplink from Indian soil, provided they complied with Indian broadcasting codes,"Mr Jaitley told the Parliament.

However, he said, these channels will have to comply with India's broadcasting codes.

For uplinking purposes, an Indian company - which need not be a broadcaster - would be permitted to set up uplinking hub for hiring it out to broadcasters.

Cheaper uplinking may encourage media companies
Such a company can have only 49% foreign equity, which includes investment from Non-Resident Indians (NRI) and Overseas Corporate Bodies (OCB).

The new policy would also allow uplinking facility to Indian news agencies, which are wholly-owned by Indians, for newsgathering and distribution.

Big boost

If the policy is approved by the Indian parliament, it might benefit a lot of companies in the news and entertainment business.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns Star, said earlier this year that he planned to develop television production facilities in the western state of Maharashtra.

Some other international broadcasters like the Time Warner group are also interested in making inroads into India and cheaper uplinking might be an attractive option.

It was in 1992 that India first allowed foreign satellite television channels to be shown, but only through cable.

Before that, the television was provided by the state-run Doordarshan channel, which aired a variety of programmes.

But competition from Zee and Star have forced Doordarshan to revamp its image and programming.

An estimated 50m Indians own television sets, with another 100 m believed to be potential customers.

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See also:

14 Mar 00 | South Asia
Indian production base for Murdoch
22 Feb 00 | South Asia
Radio boom for India
27 Jan 00 | South Asia
India launches Kashmir TV channel
13 Mar 00 | South Asia
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