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Norms for facsimile editions will be reviewed, says Reddy

NEW DELHI, August 1: The Union minister for information and broadcasting, S Jaipal Reddy, will take a fresh look at the recently issued guidelines for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the print media. This would be done keeping in mind the prospects of India-centric advertising in facsimile editions so as to bring about a harmony in the advertising scenario.

Reddy said this during the course of an interactive session with delegates following his keynote address at the first Indian Magazine Summit in Delhi on July 29. The issue was raised by Aroon Purie, chief executive officer (CEO) and editor-in-chief, India Today Group. Purie was moderating the interactive session with the Central minister.

Reddy, on the defensive over being repeatedly asked by industry leaders about the anomalies that exist in the recently-announced government policy, however, appeared unrattled as ever as he promised to take a "fresh look" at the issue.

According to the guidelines that were issued in early July, foreign publications have been allowed to bring out the facsimile editions in the country after registering under the Companies Act. These regulations have, however, bar production of local advertisements aimed at Indian readers in any form. The minister's promise came following Purie's assertion that such a regulation would only take away the commercial viability of producing such editions.

Purie said, "If I want to publish, for instance, The Economist, here without India-centric advertising in it, the product will lose its commercial viability." Reddy was quick to respond: "If this is the case, and I am in broad agreement with the concerns, then I will certainly re-look into the whole matter," and pointed out in the same vein that the embargo did not apply to scientific, technical and specialty magazines.

The minister agreed that the archaic Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act was coming in the way of many of the FDI guidelines being properly implemented, Reddy said that even this Act was in for "a lot of changes".

On face value, Reddy agreed that all magazines that are allowed to be imported into the country should be allowed to be printed here as well. On being asked if the government was thinking of according any benefits to those Indian publishers who were planning to publish magazines outside India, he said there weren't any. More than 100 scientific, technical and specialty magazines had been allowed to be published in India in the last one year alone, he added.

Speaking about the cap on content, the minister said he was personally not very comfortable with it, indicating that he felt there should be no caps at all. The present government has hiked that cap on syndicated foreign content from 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent. Reddy said, this can actually be as high as 50 per cent if the content from news agencies like Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Press, etc, were taken into account. However, he promised, "We will see what we can do in due course."

Date posted: August 1, 2005 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 9599