TRAI releases consultation paper on FDI in broadcasting

TRAI has sought views of stakeholders by August 12, 2013.

New Delhi: Content monitoring and regulation is a better way to prevent undesirable content rather than restricting foreign investment, TRAI said in a consultation paper released on Tuesday inviting views on issues related to increasing FDI in broadcast sector.

TRAI is examining the issue of relaxing FDI limits in the broadcasting sector after it received a reference from the Information and Broadcasting ministry earlier this month.

In the consultation paper, TRAI touches on a range of issues related to increasing the FDI limits in content and carriage service in television broadcasting as well as in FM radio.

TRAI said broadcasting could be grouped in to carriage services and those who generate content. It said at present the FDI limit in carriage is 74 percent, of which foreign investment beyond 49 percent has to go through the FIPB route.

The government is contemplating enhancement in the FDI limit for telecom services to 100 percent with FDI beyond 49 percent allowed through FIPB, the consultation paper said.

TRAI said convergence between telecom and broadcasting services had to be recognised and to ensure a level-playing field and added the same limits and route ought should be allowed in broadcasting sector as in telecom.

The TRAI consultation paper, however, noted content can be sensitive in nature and it is appropriate to have checks and balances at different stages to screen for any potential hazard from a national perspective.

The paper also said if more FDI is allowed, resources can be applied for upgrading news gathering and presentation by channels.

TRAI also asked stakeholders to comment on the need for provisions in uplinking guidelines like the condition which requires employment of Indians in key positions to safeguard management and editorial control in news creation.

TRAI has sought views of stakeholders by August 12, 2013.