In a clarification to its earlier Press Note regarding 26% foreign direct investment through the government route in digital news sites, ministry of information and broadcasting has said that it will consider benefits, presently available to traditional media such as print and television, to digital media entities too. The digital entity, in this case, would have to adhere to conditions like majority of directors on the board and its chief executive officer being Indian citizens and obtaining security clearance for foreign personnel deployed for more than 60 days by way of appointment, consultancy or contract. In case the foreign personnel is denied clearance or the same is withdrawn, the media outlet should make sure they resign or their services are terminated.
The benefits would include PIB (Press Information Bureau) accreditation for its reporters, cameramen and video Graphers enabling them with better first-hand information and access including participation in official press conference and such other interactions, availability of CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) benefits and concessional rail fare to people with such accreditation and making such organisations eligible for digital advertisements through Bureau of Outreach and Communication.
Just like there are self-regulating bodies operational for print and electronic media, entities in digital media too can form self-regulating bodies for furthering their interests and interaction with the government, MIB said in a statement on Friday.
Last year, the Union Cabinet had approved 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) in digital media. The Government already allows 26% FDI in print media and 49% for news channels.
That move to cap FDI in digital news media, however, was seen as restrictive by media industry experts since until then, there had been no clarity on FDI in digital news web sites and there could have been several in India with 100% foreign investment.
The decision of permitting 26% FDI would apply to entities registered or located in India, that are streaming or uploading news or current affairs on websites, apps or other platforms, according to a statement by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Further, these entities could also be news agencies that gather, write and distribute or transmit news directly or indirectly to digital media entities and news aggregators. The news aggregator can be an entity that uses software or web applications to aggregate news content from sources like news websites, blogs, podcasts, video blogs and do on. Digital media companies have to align their FDI to the 26% level with approval of the central government within one year.