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Visa boost to foreign filmmakers

Ahmedabad, May 7: Union information minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said the government plans to relax visa laws to encourage foreign producers to shoot films in India.

The minister, who was here to attend the swearing-in of Governor Kailashpati Mishra, said a decision to “liberalise (the) visa regime” would be announced soon. Prasad said he wanted to make the first decade of the 21st century the decade of entertainment. The minister added that he was keen to promote cross-cultural films like Monsoon Wedding and Bend It like Beckham.

The government has allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment in filmmaking. The only formality that remains is informing the Reserve Bank of India, he said.

Expressing concern over piracy in television and films, the minister said the government was considering enacting a law to tackle the menace.

Prasad said the July 15 deadline for implementing the Content Access System (CAS) in the four metros was fine and ruled out postponing the date. Cable operators who violate the deadline will be dealt with an iron hand — those refusing to cooperate will be arrested without warrant, he cautioned.

Asked when the government intends to enforce CAS in other cities, Prasad said: “It will depend on the success of this experiment in the four metros. A decision in this regard will be taken later.”

The minister expressed anguish over the manner in which some private TV channels highlighted Laloo Prasad Yadav’s lathi rally held recently in Patna. He said as a minister he was strongly in favour of self-regulation which, to some extent, is being observed by the print media. But private TV channels have no regard for journalistic ethics, the minister alleged. Criticising private television channels for trivialising news, Prasad justified the decision not to make Doordarshan a 24-hour news channel. “In the name of 24-hour news channels, what we see is repetition of news. This decision, however, has to be taken by Sanchar Bharati, not the ministry of information,” he said.

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