Sunday, July 19, 2009

49 per cent FDI in print media safe: Ambika Soni

With the media reeling under the financial crunch, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has backed increasing FDI (foreign direct investment) in print media to 49 per cent, saying "it is safe".

"I think it is a good suggestion," Soni said in an interview when asked about her views on increasing FDI in print media from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

"We already have 26 per cent FDI. A large number of newspapers and the entire journalist fraternity is for the infusion of more capital into print media so that they can have better working conditions, and the media is facing a financial crunch," she said.

"I feel 49 per cent is safe. It would not give control to someone from outside," she said.

Soni, however, stressed that the government will consult all stakeholders before taking this crucial decision. "But this is something about which I would like to talk to those who are not of the same view," she said.

Soni's remarks indicated the UPA government's interest in raising the FDI ceiling in print media from 26 percent to 49 per cent as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recent report.

The 49 per cent FDI, as proposed by TRAI, also covers foreign institutional investors. TRAI has also recommended a raise in the ceiling for cable networks from the existing 49 percent to 74 percent and for FM radio, from the existing 20 percent to 49 percent.

The proposed hike in FDI is being opposed by some media houses, but the government is looking at the issue afresh in the light of the capital crunch that small and medium newspapers are facing.


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