India to review banning of foreign investment in newspaper business


  • Business
  • Thursday, 30 Sep 2004

NEW DELHI (AP) - India is reviewing a five-decade-old policy banning the printing of foreign newspapers and magazines after some publications started to defy the law to secure a piece of the country's multimillion-dollar advertising and subscription market, a news report said Tuesday. 

Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy said the prime minister would soon name a panel to look into the 1955 policy, The Hindu newspaper reported. 

The policy was introduced eight years after independence from Britain to ensure that Indians got news about their country from Indian news media and to protect the industry from foreign competition. 

Foreign newspapers and magazines are sold in India, but are late because they are imported. 

The Cabinet decision on Wednesday came four months after an Indian media group began publishing the International Herald Tribune from the southern city of Hyderabad defying the ban, The Hindu said. 

Midram Publication Pvt. Ltd. continues to sell the IHT despite a government order in June telling it stop printing the daily. Priced at 30 rupees (65 cents), the Indian IHT costs a third the price of copies imported from Bangkok, Thailand. 

So far, it doesn't have locally produced content. 

Several other ventures are in the works, aiming to tap into India's multimillion-dollar newspaper advertising and subscription market. 

The Times of India newspaper has reached an agreement with Dow Jones to produce The Wall Street Journal in India, but has not started yet, while British media group Pearson PLC, publisher of The Financial Times, has entered into an alliance with the Indian financial daily Business Standard. 

London-based Henderson Global Investment picked up a 20 percent share last year in a subsidiary of The Hindustan Times, a leading English-language daily in India. 

The group of ministers will also review a decision by the government in 2002 allowing 26 percent foreign direct investment in newspapers and magazines dealing with news and current affairs, and 74 percent in journals and specialty magazines. 

More than 72 million newspapers were sold in India each day in 2003, making it the second largest market in the world after China, with 85 million papers sold, according to a report submitted to the World Newspaper Congress in Turkey in June. 

In Japan, 70 million copies are sold every day, and 55 million in the United States. - AP

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