Government amends rules to toughen entry for TV channels

October 7th, 2011 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) 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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