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Govt wants level playing field for print, digital media with FDI: I&B Secretary Amit Khare

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar says govt will soon announce incentives for films & TV hit by Covid, and will also come out with SOP for film and TV shoots.

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New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary Amit Khare Tuesday said the government is attempting to bring more freedom for different media platforms and it is also looking at getting a “level playing field” for print and digital media in terms of foreign direct investments (FDIs).

“Twenty-six per cent FDI should be applicable to the print media as well as digital platforms,” Khare said.

Last year, the Union Cabinet had approved 26 per cent FDI for digital media platforms, which was earlier applicable only to the print media. A 49 per cent FDI is applicable for news channels.

Khare, however, said a level playing field does not imply subjecting media platforms to a heavy regulatory structure.

He said this while speaking at the 21st edition (online) of FICCI Frames during a session on ‘Shaping the Future of M&E in Today’s Digitalised and Information Driven Economy’. 

The five-day global online convention, which began Tuesday, covers various aspects of the media and entertainment sector, and is attended by industry stakeholders and also government policy-makers from India and abroad. 

“The entire last six years of the government focused on ease of doing business and having less but more effective regulation,” he said, adding that the idea is to bring in few regulations, which would be easy to implement and that would bring in the desired results.

The I&B ministry is currently working on amending many of its existing rules and Acts, such as the uplinking and downlinking guidelines on satellite TV channels, and the PRB (Press and Registration of Books) Act.

Also read: Special effects & social distancing: How Ram Gopal Varma shot India’s first ‘Covid film’

‘Different regulatory practices for different media’

Stating that there are different regulatory practices for different media such as the Press Council of India for the print media and the Central Board of Film Certification certification for films, Khare said there has to be a level playing field for all, including OTT platforms such as Netlflix and Disney+ Hotstar, which do not come under any regulatory purview as of now. 

“Different regulatory structures must be brought in sync to ensure less regulation,” he said.

He also said while digital platforms come under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the I&B ministry is proposing that content should also come under it given that a convergence of various ministries is necessary.  

Khare also holds the charge as the higher education secretary in the human resource development ministry, which has pushed for digital initiatives in the wake of the pandemic to impart education to students. 

Ministry wants to work as a ‘facilitator’

Khare said the I&B Ministry is trying to provide more freedom to the media and entertainment industry, and work as a facilitator and educator, more than a regulator. 

He further said the ministry is fully in support of granting an ‘Infrastructure Status’ to the media and entertainment industry, provided there is more clarity on the definition of the infrastructure. 

ThePrint had reported how the Covid lockdown had left the entertainment industry bleeding. The industry has been losing crores of rupees a day on sponsorship money for want of fresh content.

Meanwhile, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, in a video message, said the government will soon announce incentives for films and TV production that have been hit badly by Covid-19. He also said the government will come out with a Standard Operating Procedure for film and TV shoots.

Also read: The economics of news media and why it’s in deep crisis because of Covid-19


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