| "We haven't heard yet anything from
the government related to the uplinking of ZeeBiz (a business channel
being proposed by Zee)," Zee Telefilms' news director Laxmi Goel
But he did admit that the company had sent in a proposal to the
information and broadcasting ministry that ZeeBiz channel may be
allowed to uplink from India, using an approval received earlier
for another company channel.
A report in Hindu BusinessLine (HBL) today quoted a government
source as saying, "But the vernacular channel did not take
off and the company (Zee) wanted to use the same permission for
its (proposed) business channel. The ministry has, however, not
agreed to this proposal as the content and language are different."
When contacted today, the ministry officials did not dish out any
further information, on the issue, to indiantelevision.com. They
offered that "the ZeeBiz file is still being studied".
The HBL report had said that the launch of Zee's proposed business
channel seems to have hit a roadblock with the information and broadcasting
ministry rejecting Zee Telefilms' proposal of using an uplinking
approval received earlier, for a regional channel, for this one.
The report further added that the channel would have to apply afresh
conforming to the guidelines framed for news channels. The newspaper
report quoted a government source as saying: "Uplinking for
news has become a sensitive issue and only if a channel complies
with the guidelines in both letter and spirit, we would give it
permission to uplink from India."
The issue of uplink of news channel had been pitchforked into limelight
when the government had revise the guidelines, in August this year,
after it felt that Star News had been violating the norms in `spirit'.
It may be added here that the government was literally forced to
rework the uplink norms on being petitioned by the high-profile
Indian Media Group, which also included the likes of Zee Telefilms
and Aaj Tak, that Star and its owner Rupert Murdoch were making
a "monkey" of the India laws.
Besides the business news channel, Zee Telefilms would also have
to rework its structure for its flagship Zee News channel and bring
down the foreign investment to 26 per cent. The government had given
it one year's time to comply with the uplinking norms. As on June
30, 2003, the company has a total foreign equity of 58 per cent,
of which 26.98 per cent is held by foreign promoters, about 29.43
per cent stake is held by foreign institutional investors (FIIs),
while the Indian promoters hold just 23.51 per cent, according to
the HBL report.
Now that the uplink norms have been tightened and implementation
is monitored in more stringent way, the circle seems to have come
full for Zee Telefilms.