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India Drafts Satellite Radio Rules

Proposed 74 percent cap on foreign investment is included

In reply to a question from legislators, Indian Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting C.M. Jatua announced in mid-July that the ministry has framed a draft policy governing satellite radio broadcasting.

The draft is based on recommendations issued last year by the Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India (TRAI).

The draft policy envisages two levels of licenses/approvals. One authorizing companies to provide satellite radio services in India and to set up of the necessary network and infrastructure, including terrestrial repeaters as necessary; and a separate license for programmers developing radio channels to be carried on such a service.

The draft policy also provides for eligibility conditions, license fee, foreign investment limits and other regulatory provisions.

Among the provisions is a suggestion that foreign investment in satellite radio services be capped at 74 percent; WorldSpace, currently the only company to offer satellite radio services to the subcontinent, is 100 percent foreign owned.

Also in the draft are limits on advertising and news programming.

The TRAI recommendations specify a 10-year renewable term for operator licenses with an annual fee of 4 percent of gross revenues.