In an attempt to prevent non-serious players from entering the broadcasting sector,the government on Friday decided to tighten the eligibility criteria. The Union Cabinet gave the green signal to a proposal of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to increase the net worth criteria for those seeking permission to operate TV channels.
In another significant change,the government has decided to impose certain conditions for renewal of permission to operate channels,the key being the channel should not have been found guilty of violating the terms and conditions including violations of the Programme and Advertisement Code on five occasions or more.
The I&B Ministry proposes to recast the policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of TV channels,the significant change being increasing 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. The amendments were primarily aimed at ensuring that the electronic media landscape is not unnecessarily crowded by non-serious players.
Ever since the I&B Ministry came out with two sets of policy guidelines for permission and regulation of private satellite TV channels in 2005,the number of channels has grown exponentially. The I&B Ministry had granted permission to 745 private satellite channels 379 general and 366 news and current affairs channels till the end of August.
The other changes include a stipulation that companies will have to start operating new channels within a year of getting permission,failing which their Performance Bank Guarantee will be forfeited and permission cancelled. Those opting for non-news channels will have to give a guarantee of Rs 1 crore while for news and current affairs channels,the guarantee will be Rs 2 crore.
Aspiring companies should also have at least one person occupying a top management position like chairperson,managing director,CEO or COO with a minimum of three-year media experience to seek permission for a new channel. The permission for uplinking or downlinking of channels would be for 10 years,after which renewal would be considered subject to the conditions.