'Financial Times' plan halted by Indian ruling

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MADRAS, India -- India has decided not to allow foreign print media to publish on local soil, following a five month review.

Murasoli Maran, the minister for industries of the 15-party centre-left United Front coalition, told a gathering in the southern Indian city of Madras, Tamil Nadu: "[The] Union Cabinet [of ministers] has decided against allowing foreign print media into the country," and will not reverse the ministerial decision of 1956, passed under the stewardship of then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Its reversal is objected to greatly by Indian media groups, politicians and nationalist organisations.

The ban prohibits foreign equity in Indian print publications or any equity joint venture with a foreign newspaper or magazine publisher. But it has not prevented U.S. and European publishers from licensing their titles to local groups for Indian editions, however.

New York-based Hearst Magazines International in late September launched the Indian edition of Cosmopolitan. Published monthly in English, the magazine is the 29th Cosmo edition in the world and is published in India by New Delhi-based Living Media (India).

Hatchette Filipacchi's Elle is expected to launch its Indian edition in English in the coming weeks. New Delhi-based Ogaan Publications is its local licensee.

But the government refusal to lift the ban on foreign equity in local editions of international titles will affect London's Pearson Group, which planned to form a joint venture with Calcutta-based magazine and newspaper Anand Patrika Bazar Group to launch the Financial Times newspaper in India.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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