14 May, 2021

Turbulence In The Air

Before June 26, Star, Zee and CNBC must rejig their corporate structures.

Turbulence In The Air
There's a palpable excitement in television newsrooms. The race for eyeballs is now in its second leg as the string of new news channels launched last month take on the older, well-entrenched ones. There's as much activity in some of the boardrooms. Recent changes in broadcasting laws have forced three channels—Star TV, Zee and CNBC India—to look at ways to rejig their existing corporate structures. Some of them may even be forced to rope in new Indian partners to fill an imminent vacuum.

Late March, the new i&b minister Ravi Prasad made a few controversial announcements—he said that all news channels would have to be uplinked from India, their majority stakes should be owned by Indians, and foreign investors (including NRIs, overseas corporates and FIIs) could not hold more than 26 per cent in them. The new rules affected the three channels, which have to reduce the higher foreign holdings in their companies. Star and CNBC had to do it within three months, and Zee was given a year.

As the June 26 deadline approaches for Star and CNBC, they are furiously trying...

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