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The Lowdown: India’s New Policy Guidelines For Uplinking And Downlinking TV Channels

The Union Cabinet has accepted the proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to amend the exisisting policy Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of TV channels, including changes in the net-worth requirements for running at TV channel, rollout guidelines, . The amendments will result in changes in the eligibilty criteria of the companies intending to operate TV channels in India. The Cabinet has decided on the following:

1. Increase In Net Worth Criteria: Net worth criteria for Uplinking of non-news and current affairs channels and Downlinking of foreign channels has been changed from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 5 crore for the first channel and Rs 2.5 crores for the channels added later. For uplinking of ‘News and Current Affairs’ channels the net worth has been gone up to Rs 20 crores from Rs 3 crore for the first channel and Rs 5 crorefor the channels added later.   The net worth criteria for teleports would remain Rs 3 crores for the first teleport and Rs 1 crore for every additional teleport.

What this means: Higher net-worth requirements mean that more funds will be required to start a TV Channel, which means that more channels may need to raise funds soon. Given the number of channels awaiting approval, this is probably a way to try and ensure that the queue doesn’t get much longer.

2. Operationalizing TV channels within one year from the date of permission:  The companies  are required to make their TV channels operational within one year from the date of permission. Non-News and current Affairs channels are required to sign a Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) of Rs.1 crore while News and Current Affairs channels have to give a Performance Bank Guarantee for Rs. 2 crores. In case any company fails to operationalize their channels, the permission will be cancellednad the bank guarantee will be forfeited.

3. Permission Period: The period of permission for uplinking and downlinking of channels will be 10 years.

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4. Prior experience in the media industry: The top officials in the applicant company should have a minimum of 3 years of prior experience in a Media company, for both News and Non-News channels.

5. Meger, demerger and Amalgmation: Proposals of merger, demerger and amalgamation will be allowed under the provisions of Companies Act, after obtaining the permissions of the Ministry of Information & Broadcast.

6. Renewal of the permissions: Renewal of the permissions of TV channels will be considered for a period of 10 years on the condition that the channel has not violated the terms and conditions of permission including violations of the Programme and Advertisement Code on 5 occasions or more.

7. Compliance with the rules of foreign countries: The channels operating in India but meant only for foreign viewership should comply with the rules and regulations of the target country for which content is being produced and uplinked.

8. Yearly permission fee for uplinking, downlinking and setting up teleports: A yearly permission fee of Rs 2 lakh for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels and setting up of teleports would levied.The permission fee for downlinking of TV channels uplinked from India would be Rs 5 lakhs per channel per year while fee for downlinking of TV channels uplinked from abroad would be Rs 15 lakhs per channel per year.

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