Govt toughens entry of new TV channels

These amendments were proposed based on an extensive consultation with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The move is expected to deter non-serious applicants from “crowding the electronic media landscape”

New Delhi: In order to deter non-serious applicants from “crowding the electronic media landscape”, the government on Friday decided to increase the net worth criteria for those seeking permission to run TV channels in the country, reports PTI.

The Union Cabinet cleared an information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry proposal as per which the net worth criteria for uplinking of ‘non-news and current affairs’ channels and downlinking of foreign channels has been revised from Rs1.5 crore to Rs5 crore for the first channel.

Companies will have to show an additional net worth of Rs2.5 crore for each additional channel, an official release said.

For uplinking of ‘news and current affairs’ channels the net worth has been increased from Rs3 crore to Rs20 crore for the first channel and Rs5 crore for each additional channel.

Companies would henceforth be required to operationalise new TV channels within a time frame of one year from the date of permission, the release said.

In the event of non-operationalisation of the permitted channel within a year, the Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) will be forfeited and permission cancelled.

For non-news and current affairs channels, companies will have to sign a PBG of Rs1 crore whereas news and current affairs channels will have to pledge a PBG for Rs2 crore.

Aspiring companies should also have at least one person occupying a top management position like chairperson, CEO or COO with a minimum three years media experience to seek permission for a new channel.

The period of uplinking or downlinking of channels will be uniform at 10 years, after which renewal would be considered, the release said.

For teleports, the net worth criteria would be uniform irrespective of channel capacity. The net worth criteria would remain Rs3 crore for the first teleport and Rs1 crore for every additional teleport.

Permission fee for uplinking or downlinking of TV channels and setting up of teleports would be Rs2 lakh per channel or teleport per annum.

The permission fee for downlinking of TV channels uplinked from India would be Rs5 lakh per channel per annum.

Permission fee for downlinking of TV channels uplinked from abroad would be Rs15 lakh per channel per annum.

These amendments were proposed based on an extensive consultation with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the press release said.

Currently, the I&B ministry has granted permission to 745 private satellite TV channels, out of which 366 TV channels fall in the category of news and current affairs and 379 in the category of non-news and current affairs.


Strike at Maruti’s Manesar plant hits nearby firms

The workers are demanding that the casual labourers of the Manesar plant, who have been kept out by the management after signing a deal to end a 33-day long stand-off with permanent workers, be taken back

Manesar: Workers at Maruti Suzuki India’s (MSI) Manesar plant went on a strike on Friday afternoon demanding that their colleagues, who are contract and left out in the pact that last week ended the 33-day-long stand-off, be taken back.

The stir was supported by workers in different factories belonging to various companies at the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt, including Suzuki Powertrain India, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd and Satyam Auto, reports PTI.

“A sit-in protest by workers has started inside the Manesar plant around 4pm yesterday afternoon,” an MSI official told PTI.

There are an estimated 2,000 workers inside the factory, which includes about 700 regular workers.

The company, however, claimed around 170 of regular workers are not taking part in the strike and left the plant after duty.

Workers are demanding that the casual labourers of the Manesar plant, who have been kept out by the management after signing a deal to end a 33-day long stand-off with permanent workers, be taken back.

In support of the casual labourers, who are on a protest in front of the Manesar plant, workers at factories of different companies also went on strike.

“It is unfair not to take back the casual workers while the permanent workers have been allowed to resume duties,” Suzuki Motorcycle India Employees Union president Anil Kumar said.

Last month, workers at Suzuki Powertrain India and Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd had gone on two-day strike in support of MSI’s Manesar plant workers during the standoff.

“This time we are not going to back off till the Maruti management fully implements what they have promised,” Mr Kumar said, adding production at the plant of the two-wheeler maker has come to a halt since late afternoon yesterday.

Similarly, a worker at Suzuki Powertrain India, which supplies diesel engines to MSI, said production at the company’s Manesar plant has stopped since the second shift.

Around 400 workers at Satyam Auto also went on strike, showing solidarity with the casual workers of MSI’s Manesar facility.

Workers also claimed similar strikes occurred at factories such as Hilux Autoelectric and Endurance during the day. While officials of these companies could not be reached for comments, Hilux Autoelectric chairman Surinder S Khanuja denied any such development.

When contacted, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Employees Union president Suresh Gaur said: “We have not gone for the strike yet. We are waiting for the authorities to take initiative to resolve the issue.”


A workable microfinance & financial inclusion policy: How can it be formulated?

India needs a microfinance policy that is holistic, futuristic and yet practical in terms of satisfying unmet ground-level financial needs of low-income and excluded people. It should be developed through a truly bottom-up and democratic process with widespread stakeholder input and consultations

The ongoing crisis with regard to the MFI modeli  in India and the attendant problems associated with the SHG bank linkage programmeii  leave very few options for low-income people in terms of their accessing institutional/quasi-formal financial services. Almost 60 years after Independence, this is indeed a very serious issue and one that requires appropriate and immediate attention of the stakeholders concerned including the regulators.

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about microfinance and financial inclusion in India and the discussions have centered around having an appropriate regulatory framework for microfinance, scaling up financial inclusion, the need for a sole microfinance regulatory authority and the like. As before, all of those (and this writer included) who have been talking about these aspects, have provided their rather divergent and diverse views. But it seems to me that we are once again running around in circles without serious thought to a very fundamental issue—the lack of a comprehensive microfinance/financial inclusion policy for India. And even as the proposed Microfinance Bill in India continues its journey and could eventually land up in Parliament to become a saviour for MFIs, we need to ask the question of whether or not India needs a comprehensive microfinance/financial inclusion policy first. Such a policy, if it were to be framed, must answer questions like (but not limited to) the following:

•    What (financial services) do we see as part of financial inclusion and/or microfinance in India and why?
•    What has/has not worked on the ground with regard to financial inclusion and/or microfinance in India and why/why not?
•    Going forward, what is our vision with regard to the various financial inclusion and/or microfinance services/initiatives in India?
•    What do we hope to achieve with scaling up financial inclusion and/or microfinance in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years from now, and so on?
•    And other questions as appropriate…

Unless we have a clearly-defined national microfinance/financial inclusion policy answering the above and other questions, our responses to delivering/scaling up low-income financial services will continue to be kneejerk and piecemeal. Interim solutions are undoubtedly necessary as life has to go on, but we need to critically look at medium- and long-term issues as well and address various issues in a comprehensive manner. Otherwise, we will face the prospect of remaining stagnant in our journey of promoting financial access for low income/excluded people and integrating them meaningfully in the overall growth process.

Therefore, even before we look at building a permanent regulatory architecture for all of microfinance/financial inclusion (through some mechanism and/or a Bill, etc), let us first look towards devising a national policy for microfinance and financial inclusion—a policy that is holistic, futuristic and yet practical (in terms of satisfying unmet ground-level financial needs of low income and excluded people) and developed through a truly bottom-up and democratic process with widespread stakeholder input and consultations. The aspect of having a bottom-up and democratic process is very critical to creating strong ownership for the policy and adherence to its vision during implementation.

Further, such an approach cannot be a mere document—conceived in New Delhi or Washington (with all due respect) and—produced through field-visits by a few important consultants/agencies to select field areas. It has to be truly national in character and must be backed by public interactions with low-income people in all parts of the country apart from state level, regional and national level consultations with various stakeholders. It has to be comprehensive enough in terms of bringing together different and competing models with alternative aspirations. And last, but not the least, it must be grounded in reality so as to make a solid difference to the lives of the people for whom it is being framed in the first place. In other words, it cannot just remain a paper tiger and/or a mere writing exercise

It is about time that we follow the lead of many other (and especially smaller) countries that have genuinely tried to frame appropriate microfinance/financial inclusion policies through a proper process. That alone can ensure the orderly/sustainable growth of the Indian microfinance/financial inclusion sector and simultaneously enable low-income people to become a real part of the inclusive growth story. The key question here is whether we have the commitment and courage to undertake such an important and urgently required task in a voluntary and selfless manner. Time alone will provide the answers.


(The writer has over two decades of grassroots and institutional experience in rural finance, MSME development, agriculture and rural livelihood systems, rural/urban development and urban poverty alleviation/governance. He has worked extensively in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe with a wide range of stakeholders, from the private sector and academia to governments).



G k agrawal

6 years ago

Money may pl. ensure quality of contents of articles before publishing articles like A Workable Microfinance and Financial Inclusion Policy


Mani bala

In Reply to G k agrawal 6 years ago

Afraid I disagree. I have been following all the articles by this writer here and elsewhere. Mr Arunachalam is the leading authority on microfinance . He has written a definitive book on the subject. And has worked in this sector for a long long time at the grassroots level. I would question the motivation behind these comments. Moneylife... pls ignore such comments springing up. We in the microfinance sector would like to continue reading him.

G k Agrawal

In Reply to Mani bala 6 years ago

I have full regards for mr. Arunachalam for his depth of knowledge of MF and also read his Articles on M F with interest. Pl. Do not attribute any motives to my comments. If u read his. Article in question, u will find no specific suggestion except holistic contentions throughout. Money life has to Use their discretion beforer publishing any article to ensure quality of contents.

Devinder Sharma

6 years ago

I started reading the article with a lot of expectations. But I feel disappointed. It doesn't say anything meaningful except using the words 'holistic', 'comprehensive', 'truly national in character' and so on...

Devinder Sharma

G k agrawal

6 years ago

The author has in in his article on A workable micro finance and financial inclusion Policy has m e r ely given holistic views and sugg es ti ons with no specific / concrete ideas.

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