26 per cent FDI in digital media needs more clarity: India

Mumbai: The government's move to cap FDI in news and current affairs digital media to 26% throws up questions that need clarifications as some of those who were looking to raise funds could be restricted, according to industry players and experts. Deloitte India, Partner Jehil Thakkar said clarity is needed on how to treat cases of television broadcasters which are streaming news online but are allowed 49% FDI.

"What happens to those, whether they qualify under 26% or 49% (FDI)? What happens to news websites which are 100% foreign entity?" he wondered. Also in future some of these which were looking to raise capital or looking to get bought out by a foreign investor, will now be restricted from doing so, Thakkar said.

Expressing similar views, Eros International Group Chief Marketing Officer Manav Sethi said the scope of the impact will be determined by the wording of the provision in the FDI policy.

"News and current affairs are present on social media platforms, on digital platforms that are subsidiaries of foreign brands etc. How would you differentiate between TV channels which have 49% and their online streams, which will effectively have 26%?", he said. Terming it a "bizarre move from the government", MediaNama.com founder Nikhil Pahwa said in a series of tweets that "this is not permission, it is a restriction. Digital media did not have limits earlier".

"They're equating digital media with TV putting a limit equivalent of that of print. How does that make sense," he added. Moreover, Pahwa also wondered if "FDI regulations will apply to those uploading content on YouTube or Facebook, or to the platforms (Facebook, YouTube) themselves".

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