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Cabinet allows India editions of foreign news magazines with 26 pc FDI

Govt allows India editions of foreign news mags with 26 pc FDI

The Union government has decided to allow the publication of local editions of foreign news and current affairs magazines in India. The 26 per cent cap on foreign direct investment into Indian news print ventures, however, will continue.

The Union Cabinet cleared the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry proposal on Thursday. Till now, Indian editions of only foreign scientific, technical and speciality periodicals and journals were allowed.

An official release said that only Indian companies registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956, would be allowed to bring out Indian editions of foreign news magazines. Moreover, three-fourths of the directors on the Board of Directors of the applicant companies and all key executives and editorial staff would have to be resident Indians.

The new government policy does not provide any parameters on the content of the Indian edition of foreign news magazines. The release said that the Indian edition of the magazine can either be cent per cent identical to the foreign magazine it ties up with or include local content. The Indian publisher would also be free to insert local advertisements.

The title of the magazine should be got verified and subsequently registered by the Indian company from the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI). Permission would be granted for publication of only such magazines which are being published in the country of their origin.

In addition, the foreign magazine should have been published continuously for a period of at least five years, and the publication must have a circulation of at least 10,000 paid copies for the last financial year in the country of its origin.

"The decision will provide Indian readers access to foreign magazines at cheaper rates in comparison to the same magazines imported at much higher rates. The Indian reader would be benefitted immensely as he/she would be able to keep abreast with the latest events and happenings on the global scale," the official release said.

Since 2002, the government has cleared 17 proposals for foreign direct investment in print media, a report in the Hindu mentioned. In all, 183 Indian editions of speciality magazines have been allowed. This is besides the 116 cases where foreign investment has been allowed for speciality magazines.

A 2008 report by industry lobby Ficci and consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers, estimated India’s print media to be a Rs14,900 crore annual industry in terms of revenues. Newspapers accounted for 87% of the total industry, while magazine publishing was estimated to generate Rs1,900 crore in revenue.

TheMint newspaper quoted a FICCI-PricewaterhouseCoopers report earlier this year which says the magazine segment of the Indian print media is projected to have a compounded annual growth rate of 15 per cent during 2008-2012 to become a Rs 3,800 crore business by 2012. At present, magazine publishing accounts for 13 per cent of the Indian print media industry.

According to Financial Express, the Indian government’s earlier relaxation of 2005-06, allowing Indian editions of foreign magazines in the non-news category, had resulted in a flurry of launches in 2007-08. Vogue was launched by Condé Nast in partnership with the India Today Group in 2007. It also entered into an arrangement with Rodale Inc of the US and Axel Springer of Germany to launch women's health magazine Prevention in 2007 and Autobild in 2008, respectively. The Outlook Group also entered into an agreement with US company Time Inc to publish People magazine in India earlier this year.

The government's decision is expected to benefit two Indian companies immediately: the ABP group which has tied up with Time Inc for Fortune and the TV18 group which wants to bring out Forbes in associaiton with Forbes Media.

Date posted: September 21, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1199