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INDIA COURT PLAYS NAME GAME FOREIGN NEWSPAPERS FIGHT AGAINST PROTECTIONISM

By Published on .

BOMBAY-The newspaper war is turning nasty as foreign publications try-so far unsuccessfully-to overcome protectionist entry barriers erected by local papers.

The fate of foreign papers including Pearson Group's Financial Times, the New York Times Co.'s New York Times and Dow Jones' Asian Wall Street Journal could be decided as early as today during a hearing at the Delhi High Court which has so far kept the papers out of India. The reason: Their publications have names similar to local Indian newspapers.

At stake is the $463 million spent annually on print advertising including newspapers and magazines, which posted a healthy 19.2% growth in 1992 despite the rising popularity of satellite TV.

The Dehli court so far has held that the name similarity is a violation of the Press & Registration of Books Act, a law dating back to 1867.

The legal wrangling has prevented foreign papers from tapping into the world's second-most populous country with 902 million inhabitants and an annual economic growth rate of 5.5%, more than twice as high as U.S. and Europe.

A 1991 repeal of restrictive trade laws by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has triggered explosive interest in the country among many multinationals: Coca-Cola Co., IBM, Ford, Siemens and Procter & Gamble, all either recently invested or expanded operations in India.

But the going has been tougher for foreign media. The latest blow came (Continued on Page XX)

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