The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday issued a public notice asking entities involved in uploading and streaming of news and current affairs through the digital media to comply with the Centre’s earlier order allowing 26% foreign direct investment to make them eligible.
In the notice, the government laid down the process the entities need to comply with the Centre’s September 18 order within one month. The entities that have foreign direct investment below 26% need to intimate the ministry, giving details of the company and its shareholding pattern along with the names and addresses of its directors and shareholders. The companies would also have to submit the names and addresses of promoters and Significant Beneficial Owners.
They would also need to “a confirmation with regard to compliance with pricing, documentation and reporting requirements under the FDI Policy, Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) Rules, 2019 and Foreign Exchange Management (Mode of Payment and Reporting of Non-debt Instruments) Regulations, 2019 along with copies of relevant reporting forms in support of the past/existing foreign investment and downstream investment(s), if any,” as well as permanent account number and the latest audited or unaudited profit and loss statement and balance sheet along with the auditor’s report.
The companies which have a foreign direct investment above 26% will have to furnish the same details to the ministry, and also ensure that there were taking the steps needed to bring down the investment percentage by October 15, 2021. They would also need to seek the ministry’s approval.
The entities wanting to bring in fresh foreign investment would need the ministry’s approval, the notice said.
“Every entity has to comply with the requirements of citizenship of Board of Directors and of the Chief Executive Officers (by whatever name called),” the notice said. “The entities are required to obtain security clearance for all foreign personnel likely to be deployed for more than 60 days in a year by way of appointment, contract or consultancy or any other capacity for functioning of the entity, prior to their deployment.”
For this, the notice said, the companies will apply to the ministry at least 60 days in advance. The proposed foreign personnel should be deployed only after the company receives approval from the information and broadcasting ministry, the notice added.
The order comes a month after the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre, seeking its response on a public interest litigation for regulating over-the-top, or OTT, platforms by an autonomous body, according to PTI.
On November 10, the Centre had issued a government order to bring online news platforms and content providers under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It had amended the (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, to make the changes.
With this, OTT platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon’s Prime Video came under the purview of the I&B Ministry. While film and TV certification bodies moderate public content in India, it did not allow censorship of content on the online streaming platforms.