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FDI blow to news channels

New Delhi, March 19 (PTI): In a setback to STAR TV’s plans to launch a 24-hour news channel from April 1, the government last night fixed a 26 per cent cap on foreign investment in television news channels seeking to uplink from India.

The Centre asked existing news channels having foreign equity, like Zee News, to divest within a year to fit into the limit.

While STAR TV has cent per cent foreign investment, Zee has more than 50 per cent.

Briefing reporters after a meeting of the Union Cabinet, parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said foreign investment in news channels includes foreign direct investment, foreign institutional investment, external commercial borrowings and investment by NRIs.

For entertainment channels, there will be no limit on foreign investment, she said.

At the same time, Swaraj added, entertainment channels having news bulletins or current affairs programmes would fall under the 26 per cent cap.

The information and broadcasting ministry and the communications ministry will come out with separate guidelines soon to ensure uniformity in uplinking rules, Swaraj said.

Describing the 26 per cent cap as a “very significant change”, the minister said news channels were “sensitive and opinion making channels”.

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