More foreign investment may be permitted

International media businesses will be able to nab a larger chunk of the Indian TV market if the government accepts recommendations made by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India.

This will come as good news to Hollywood players such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., who are anxious to grab a bigger slice of the lucrative sector.

According to a recent report from global financial services group KPMG, Indian TV industry revenues hit $5.7 billion in 2009, a number expected to grow to $11.3 billion by 2014. India has more than 100 million cable TV homes that consume nearly 500 channels.

In a proposal sent to the ministry of information and broadcasting, TRAI recommended that the foreign investment limit for cable network operators be increased to 74% from the existing 49%.

TRAI also proposed that the foreign investment limit on Internet protocol TV and mobile TV be set at 74%. There is no existing government policy on these sectors at present.

However, TRAI did not recommend raising the current 26% limit on news and current affairs channels because it is considered a politically sensitive area by the government.

The regulator also suggested that foreign investment above 26% in any media business would require government approval.

Sony, News Corp.’s Star, Disney, WB, Turner and Viacom are among those already in India, whose population is just under 1.3 billion.

Fox Intl. Channels is about to bow seven channels in the territory — FX, National Geographic Channel HD, National Geographic Wild, Fox Crime, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Music and Baby TV — adding to its National Geographic channel and Fox History and Entertainment.

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