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News trio in uplink race

New Delhi, Feb. 24: The Living Media Group’s TV Today Network, STAR News Broadcasting and Prannoy Roy’s NDTV World are among the applicants for permission to uplink for their 24-hour news channels.

Union minister for information and broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in Parliament today that the proposals from these channels seeking permission to uplink were “under examination”. He was replying to a question by Manoj Bhattacharya.

The minister also said “the policy of uplinking of foreign-owned news and current affairs television channels from India is being examined for purposes of providing appropriate safeguards”.

Though it has been known that the government is studying the policy on uplinking for news channels, this is the first time it has been made public that the ministry is examining proposals from both foreign-owned and non foreign-owned news channels.

It is understood that the ministry is keen to project the image that it is “even-handed”. Even if some of the applications are from non-foreign owned channels, it is likely that their case will be taken up along with those from foreign-owned channels.

The government’s uplinking policy for foreign-owned news channels will have a direct impact on Rupert Murdoch’s STAR News, which is scheduled to go on air on the midnight of March 31.

If the policy on uplink as it stands now is not reviewed, foreign-owned news channels can uplink. The ministry is yet to decide whether the applications from foreign-owned news channels or news channels owned by companies with foreign equity holdings call for a policy review.

NDTV World Ltd and its parent NDTV are expected to start two news channels — one in English and one in Hindi — from April 1. While NDTV has permission to uplink, NDTV World’s application is still being studied.

Likewise with TV Today Network which runs the Hindi Aaj Tak. TV Today is also expected to start its 24 hour English news channel shortly. Permission to uplink for this channel has not yet been granted.

Videocon’s application to uplink for its Bharat Business Channel, a proposed Hindi business news channel, and the application from Rajat Sharma’s Independent News Service Private Limited are also under examination.

Among the channels that have permission to uplink are TV Today for Aaj Tak, Sun TV for Sun News, Udaya News, Surya News and Teja News, Jain Studios for Jain TV, STV Enterprises for Punjab Today, Zee Telefilms for Zee News, Sahara Sanchar for Sahara Samay National & International, Sahara Samay UP, Sahara Samay MP, Sahara Samay Bihar, Sahara Samay Mumbai, Sahara Samay Rajasthan and Sahara Samay National Capital Region.

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