India Lifts Foreign Ownership Restrictions on TV

The Indian government has eased foreign ownership restrictions in the television and radio sectors.

In future foreign companies will be able own up to 49% of news and current affairs channels on TV and on radio. That is up from a current limit of 26%. However, there remains a requirement of government approval for foreign shareholdings.

Existing rules already permit 100% foreign ownership of non-news channels.

For broadcast platforms (MSOs, LCOs DTH operators and headend in the sky and mobile TV) the limit on foreign ownership is increased from a current 74% to 100%.

The changes are intended to attract new investment into the sector. They also come just days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to Turkey, the U.K. and the G20 summit meeting. Liberalizations were announced in 15 sectors.

“FDI is an additionality of resources and it is required if the cycle of economic activity has to take off. In the last few months, growth is being driven by public expenditure, some private investment and increased FDI,” said finance minister Arun Jaitley at a press conference.

Most of the major U.S. media conglomerates already have substantial presence in India, including Fox (Star Television), Disney (UTV) and Viacom (Viacom 18) which are all major broadcasters. Earlier this month Sony’s Multi Screen Media was rebranded as Sony Picture Networks India.

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