The Union Cabinet yesterday gave its approval to review the Print Media policy by allowing publication of India editions of Foreign magazines publishing news and comments on public news (periodicals falling in the news and current affairs category).
The immediate gains of the policy change accrue to Ananda Bazaar Patrika group, which has, for the past few years, been attempting to publish Fortune in India, and to Network 18, which had announced a joint venture with Forbes magazine (pictured at the announcement of the JV: Network 18's Chawla (left), Forbes' Adamopoulos). Living Media may bring in an Indian edition of Time magazine. Other possible beneficiaries could include The Economist.
The major gain to Indian readers will be the elimination of the high cost of air freight, which makes most international titles prohibitively expensive.
Publishers of Indian editions would continue to be eligible for attracting 26% foreign investment.
Of the riders to the clearance, two are perhaps the most pertinent:
1. Permission would be conditional on at least 3/4th of the Directors on the Board of Directors of the Applicant Indian Company and all key executives and editorial staff being resident Indians.
2. The content would be allowed to be up to 100% identical to the foreign magazine concerned and the India publisher would be free to add local content. The Indian publisher would also be free to insert local advertisements.
Considering the broadband penetration and the ease of access to the dotcom editions of various international news offerings, a positive review of the print media policy was expected.