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A New Phase of Media History is Perhaps Being Written

The government seems to be in the mood to provide a major impetus to the Indian broadcasting industry.

The new directive issued, relaxing foreign direct investment in the broadcast carriage industry to 100 percent through the automatic route, is expected to bring relief to the cable industry, which in its fourth phase, now needs to spread to the rural areas. Major investments can be expected in teleports, cable networks, DTH services, HITS, and mobile TV businesses. A spin-off may also be felt by OTT operators.

The pay TV ecosystem is also changing. As against a slow-down of 5.8 percent average annual growth rate from 2016 to 2012 expected in the pay-TV industry in the Asia-Pacific region, the Indian market projected to grow at 9.3 percent in the same period can only be a sweet spot for foreign entertainment broadcasting companies.

The industry welcomes the passing of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, 2014 relating to Goods & Services Tax (GST) by huge consensus in the Rajya Sabha. Once India amalgamates several Central and State taxes into a single tax, mitigating cascading or double taxation, and facilitating a common national market, the industry is bound to prosper. While details on how it will impact the various segments of the broadcasting industry are being worked out, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

The ministry of information and broadcasting has recently enhanced the FDI cap prescribed under FM Radio Phase III policy guidelines from 26 percent to 49 percent.

The broadcasting industry may be in for another major surprise. The ministry of information and broadcasting has recommended the finance ministry to accord infrastructure status to the industry. This would facilitate the industry attract better and affordable financing options in its present capital-intensive growth phase and place it at par with the telecom industry.

We welcome M. Venkaiah Naidu, the newly appointed Minister of Information & Broadcasting. This is in addition to the portfolio he already holds, the urban development ministry.

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