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FDI increase to take heat off India’s cable operators

A government proposal to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) levels in the cable and direct to home (DTH) TV sector from 49% to 74% has been circulated to different ministries, according to Indiantelevision.com.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has requested comments and inputs from various other departments including the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and an announcement is expected to confirm the FDI increase soon.

The move follows recommendations from the regulator that foreign direct investment caps in the cable and satellite sector should be brought in line with the 74% already allowed in India's mobile TV and internet protocol TV (IPTV) companies.

The increase is expected to kick start the road to cable digitisation, which must be completed nationwide by the end of 2014, according to a recent government mandate.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is reportedly to meet this week the 18 member digitisation task force, chaired by Additional Secretary Rajiv Takru, to review the progress in digitising India's cable TV network.

The final recommendations will be put to the Cabinet. Reportedly, 49 of the proposed 74% of foreign investment will go through the automatic route, with the remainder looked at by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

India has about 106 million cable and satellite TV homes, of which 80 million are connected by cable. There are reportedly 706 television channels in the South Asian nation.

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