Government amends rules to toughen entry for TV channels

New Delhi: To weed out non-serious
players from “crowding the electronic media landscape”, the government
Friday cleared a set of steps, including hiking the net worth criteria
for those seeking permission to run TV channels in the country.

A
meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
approved the proposal of the information and broadcasting ministry to
recast the existing “Policy Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of
TV channels”.

The amendments envisage significant changes in the eligibility criteria of companies seeking to operate TV channels in India.

These
changes have been done in “order to ensure that only serious and
credible operators are permitted to operate such channels and the
electronic media landscape is not unnecessarily crowded by non-serious
players,” said a statement after the cabinet meeting.

The
cabinet revised the net worth criteria for uplinking of non-news and
current affairs channels and downlinking of foreign channels from Rs.1.5
crore to Rs.5 crore for the first channel and Rs.2.5 crore for each
additional channel.

For uplinking of news and current affairs
channels, the net worth/criteria has been increased from Rs.3 crore to
Rs.20 crore for the first channel and Rs.5 crore for each additional
channel.

Under the new guidelines, all TV channels would be
required to operationalize their TV channels within a time frame of one
year from the date of permission, for which non-news and current affairs
channels will have to sign a performance bank guarantee (PBG) of Rs.1
crore.

News channels are required to give a performance bank
guarantee for Rs.2 crore. In the event of non-operationalisation of the
permitted channel within a period of one year, the bank guarantee will
be forfeited and permission cancelled.

The companies wishing to
start TV channels should also have at least one person occupying a top
management position like chairperson, CEO or COO with a minimum 3 years
media experience to seek permission for a new channel.

The period
of uplinking or downlinking of channels will be uniform at 10 years,
after which renewal would be considered, the revised guidelines said.

The
net worth criteria for teleports would be uniform irrespective of
channel capacity. The net worth criteria would remain Rs.3 crore for the
first teleport and Rs.1 crore for every additional teleport.

Permission
fee for uplinking or downlinking of TV channels and setting up of
teleports would be Rs.2 lakh per channel or teleport per annum.

The
permission fee for downlinking of TV channels uplinked from India would
be Rs.5 lakh per channel per annum. Permission fee for downlinking of
TV channels uplinked from abroad would be Rs.15 lakh per channel per
annum.

The ministry had proposed various amendments in the
existing policy to reflect the fast evolving electronic media landscape
in the country after intense consultation with Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India (TRAI).

Till August, the ministry has granted
permission to 745 private satellite TV channels out of which 366 TV
channels were permitted in the category of “news and current affairs”
and and 379 in the category of “non-news and current affairs”.

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