Friday, Jul 04, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Without this extension the second since the expiry of the June 26 deadline the channel would have lost its round-the-clock `live' status. The fate of Star News has been in doubt for some time now because the 90-day grace period it had been given in the revised guidelines for uplinking of news and current affairs TV channels from India ended on June 26.
As has been the case all of last week ending today Star News will uplink for the coming seven days as per the stipulated format that is applicable to foreign broadcasters who want to provide `live' news coverage to their viewers. Though Star News has sought to conform to the revised guidelines by creating a new company Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS) in which this wholly foreign-owned entity of the media baron, Rupert Murdoch, has reduced the foreign equity component to 26 per cent, its application is pending approval.
While the I&B Ministry had sought clarifications from MCCS on the shareholding pattern of the newly-floated company as its paid-up capital is only Rs. 1 lakh, the Ministry of Home Affairs, too, has raised some questions pertaining to security clearance of the Board of Directors of the new company. Apart from the Home Ministry, the application has also been referred to the Department of Space.
In view of the procedure involved in clearance of such applications, Ministry officials did not rule out the possibility of further extensions being given to the channel on a week-to-week basis. However, they maintained that such an arrangement could not carry on for an unreasonable time. Having applied at the eleventh hour the application was sent to the Ministry six days before the expiry of the 90-day grace period Star News' contention is that the transitory arrangement in the uplinking policy had given them ``three months to come within the framework of these guidelines''. As per the channel's interpretation, application as a new incarnate within the stipulated time was enough, but the Ministry's position is that since Star News' effort to put its ``house in order'' had not secured clearance within those 90 days, it would have to reckon with weekly clearances.
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