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Call for rise in foreign funding cap for India’s news broadcasters

The foreign direct investment (FDI) limit for India's news and current affairs channels should be increased at least to the 49% recommended by the regulator, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has said.

The body's pre-budget memorandum also stated it is "imperative to align the foreign investment caps in broadcasting carriage with that of telecom, in keeping with a technology agnostic approach so that the industry can achieve its full potential."

Foreign direct investment should be encouraged in that it provides stability in terms of long term funding, urges the FICCI, according to an Indian Television report.

The federation also told the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that given the great need for both domestic and imported set top boxes, import and excise duties on them should be given a three year moratorium – in line with both the schedule to digitise India's cable network, and a recommendation from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India in 2008.

The FICCI also recommended the service tax applied to direct to home (DTH) satellite television operators should be reduced by 4% over the coming three years, given the increased burden of entertainment tax levied on the sector in some states.

Granting 'infrastructure' status to the cable TV industry in India would help encourage domestic funding and grow the sector as a result. The current lack of "transparency has resulted in banks and financial institutions steering clear from the cable sector, thereby impairing quality of service, technological upgradation and the required switchover to digitization with addressability," said the FICCI.

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