The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to recast the existing "Policy Guidelines for Uplinking and Downlinking of TV channels". The amendments will bring significant changes in the eligibility criteria of companies seeking to operate TV channels in India in order to ensure that only serious and credible operators are permitted to operate such channels and the electronic media landscape is not unnecessarily crowded by non- serious players.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has two sets of Policy Guidelines for permission/regulation of private satellite TV channels in India. While regulation of foreign TV channels uplinked from abroad and distributed in India for public viewing is governed by "Policy Guidelines for Downlinking of Television channels" notified on 11th Nov 2005, private TV channels which are uplinked from India are governed by "Guidelines for Uplinking from India" notified on 2nd December 2005. Till 31.08.2011 the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had granted permission to 745 private satellite TV channels out of which 366 TV channels were permitted in the category of ‘News and Current Affairs’ and 379 in the category of ‘Non-News and Current Affairs’.
The new guidelines are:
• Net worth criteria for Uplinking of ‘Non-News and Current Affairs’ channels and Downlinking of foreign channels has been revised from Rs.1.5 crores to Rs. 5 crores for the first channel and Rs. 2.5 crores for each additional channel.
• For uplinking of ‘News and Current Affairs’ channels the net worth criteria has been increased from Rs. 3 crores to Rs. 20 crores for the first channel and Rs. 5 crores for each additional channel.
• All TV channels would be required to operationalize their TV channels within a time frame of one year from the date of permission, for which Non- News and current Affairs channels will have to sign a Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) of Rs.1 crore whereas
News and Current Affairs channels will have to give a Performance Bank Guarantee for Rs. 2 crores. In the event of non-operationalisation of the permitted channel within a period of one year, the PBG will be forfeited and permission will be cancelled.
• The period of permission/ registration for uplinking/ downlinking of channels will be uniform at 10 years.
• One of the persons occupying the top management position i.e., Chairperson or Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operating Officer or Chief Technical Officer or Chief Financial Officer 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.
• Proposals of merger, demerger and amalgamation will be allowed under the provisions of Companies Act 1956, after obtaining the permissions of the Ministry of I&B as per procedure.
• Renewal of the permissions of TV channels will be considered for a period of 10 years at a time subject to the condition that the channel should not have been found guilty of violating the terms and conditions of permission including violations of the Programme and Advertisement Code on 5 occasions or more.