Shri Basudeb Acharia, Leader, CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha and Shri Nilotpal Basu, Leader, CPI(M) group in Rajya Sabha had sent the following letter to Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Information and Broadcasting on the publication in the Indian edition of the International Herald Tribune.
Dear Shri Jaipal Reddy,
are forwarding this detailed note which is appended herewith to you with reference to the publication from May 31, 2004 of an Indian edition of the International Herald Tribune in Hyderabad by T. Venkattram Reddy on behalf of Midram Publications Private Limited, with M.J. Akbar as the Editor.
This is for your immediate consideration and urgent action thereon.
Hoping to hear from you at the earliest.
Nilotpal Basu, Leader, CPI(M) Group in Rajya Sabha
Basudeb Acharia, Leader, CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha
Shri S. Jaipal Reddy
Minister of Information & Broadcasting
Government of India
A Note on Indian Edition of International Herald Tribune
The publication of Indian edition of IHT is in clear and blatant violation of the policy decision announced by the Government of India in Parliament in 1955 as well as the Syndication Guidelines issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry more recently.
On September 30, 1955, I & B Minister Dr B.V. Keskar announced in the Lok Sabha that the Government of India had decided to accept the [First] Press Commission’s recommendation that foreign newspapers and periodicals that dealt mainly with news and current affairs should not be allowed to bring out editions in India. Noting that the decision had “no ambiguity about it,” he revealed that The New York Times had been informed that “pursuant to the uniform policy adopted in accordance with the above decision, it would not be possible to accede to their proposal for bringing out their international edition in India.”
This was a vital policy decision of political importance that has been accepted and followed by all Governments subsequently.
It is evident that the “Guidelines For Foreign Direct Investment in Indian Entities Publishing Newspapers And Periodicals Dealing with News and Current Affairs” adopted in by the Government of India, which permit “Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 26 % of paid up equity capital in Indian entities publishing newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs,” subject to meeting certain other conditions, have no relevance to the launch in Hyderabad of an Indian edition of the International Herald Tribune.
The publication of an Indian edition of the IHT in Hyderabad is also in defiance of the “Guidelines For Syndication Arrangements By Newspapers” issued by the I & B Ministry. These guidelines stipulate that registered Indian newspapers can make syndication arrangements under the “automatic approval route” subject to certain conditions. One condition is that “the total material so procured and actually printed in an issue of the Indian publication does not exceed 7.5 % of the total printed area of that issue.” Another is that “the syndicated material does not include [the] full copy of the editorial page or the front page of the foreign publication.” A third condition is that “the mast head of the content provider publication is not utilised in the Indian publication.” The guidelines do provide for exceptional approval or the issue of a no objection certificate by the I & B Ministry for “publication of [an] Indian edition of a foreign magazine/journal/newspaper.”
It is evident that no such approval and no such objection certificate has been given either to The New York Times or to Midram Publications Private Limited in Hyderabad for the publication of an Indian edition of the IHT.
The reported registration of the Indian edition of the IHT by the Registrar of Newspapers in India is without authorisation and totally inconsistent with the Government of India’s policy decision announced in September 1955. It is also inconsistent with the above-mentioned Syndication Guidelines. Immediate measures need to be taken to cancel this registration and action should be taken against those responsible for the out-of-turn and improper registration.
From newspaper reports, it appears that the I & B Ministry has written to the International Herald Tribune’s Managing Director in Hong Kong and to Midram Publications Private Limited asking them to stop the publication on the grounds that it was violation of both the 1955 policy decision and the Syndication Guidelines.
But the Indian publication of IHT continues.
The implications of this are serious. This means any foreign organisation or individual, whatever their antecedents are, can publish in India newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs by teaming up with an Indian entity or citizen willing to collaborate. It will make a mockery of the Government of India’s policy decision as well as guidelines.
It is evident that instead of remaining helpless, the Government of India should find an immediate way to implement its policy and guidelines on this vital question. Action should be taken against all the parties involved. If it is found necessary, a suitable law should be adopted quickly to keep the Indian press Indian in character and integrity.