Need To Know | Govt turns down plea on surrogate ads

Need To Know | Govt turns down plea on surrogate ads

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it will not withdraw its notification prohibiting surrogate advertising on television, despite a plea by private broadcasters.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, minister of state for information and broadcasting Anand Sharma said that Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had, in a representation to the ministry dated 31 March, requested it to withdraw the notification prohibiting surrogate advertising of alcoholic and tobacco products.

IBF had contended that the interests of advertising and media sectors were affected adversely by the notification.

The ministry, however, said the notification was issued after it received reports about widespread violation of the advertising code.

“Keeping in the mind the sensitivity involved, especially the impression that such advertisements create on minors, the government issued the notification dated February 25, 2008," Sharma said.

The notification said that “no advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly production, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol or other intoxicants".



Bosch declares lockout at Jaipur plant

New Delhi/Mumbai: Bosch Ltd, the Indian flagship firm of Germany’s Robert Bosch, said on Thursday it had decided to declare a lockout at its plant in Jaipur in Rajasthan from Friday.

The lockout follows a strike by employees for more than a month. The company was offering apprenticeships to students of Industrial Training Institutes and usually absorbed them at the end of their training period. However, the firm had because of the slowdown discontinued this practice, which led to the strike.

The Rajasthan government had earlier this week declared the strike as illegal and had ordered all employees to return to work.

The strike had resulted in cutting production down to one-fourth at the factory, which was manufacturing only 350 emission reducing pumps a day.

— Reuters and Staff Writers


Union Bank to focus on SME lending

Mumbai: Union Bank of India (UBI) will convert 100 of its branches into specialized ones focusing exclusively on small and medium enterprises, chairman and managing director M.V. Nair said on Thursday. The branches will extend loans of up to Rs35 crore to SMEs that have a turnover of less than Rs1,000 crore, he said.

SMEs manufacture about 8000 products, contributing 40% of the industrial output, and are the largest employer after the agricultural sector. Union Bank will increase its advances to this sector, which stood at Rs13,884 crore as of 30 September, by 30%, said Nair. The bank also aims to increase SMEs’ share of total advances from the current 16% to 20% by 2012.

Nair said UBI would look into converting working capital loans into working capital term loans, if needed. While working capital loans are typically for 45 days, term loans don’t need to be repaid until at least a year. “We are putting into place a mechanism by which we can reschedule or extend the holding period of such loans for the industry. We will give additional credit as required and convert working capital facilities into working capital term loans. We will also reduce our margins where it is warranted," Nair said.

— Anup Roy


DLF consortium sole bidder for Metro link

Chandigarh: A consortium led by DLF Ltd emerged on Thursday as the sole bidder for setting up of Metro link from Delhi Metro Sikanderpur station to NH-8 in Gurgaon.

“We have received a single bid from a consortium in which DLF has 26% stake for the Metro link project in Gurgaon," Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) chief administrator T.C. Gupta said on Thursday.

He said within the next 10 days, the department would evaluate the bid for this project, adding that the consortium had already submitted the technical and financial bids for the project.

Huda had invited request for qualification and request for proposal for the development of a Metro link for providing last-mile connectivity from Delhi Metro Sikanderpur station on MG Road to NH8 over 60m wide sector road (Vishwakarma Marg) and on the green belt along NH8. The route length of the Metro link is about 3.2km.

The ‘Business Standard’ and the ‘Hindustan Times’ reported this story on 11 December.



India eases export curb, to sell wheat to Nepal

Mumbai: India, the world’s second biggest wheat producer, allowed sales of 10,000 tonnes to Nepal, easing a ban on exports, the trade ministry said.

MMTC Ltd, the nation’s biggest state-run trader, will sell the grain, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said on its website. National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd has been allowed to ship 950 tonnes to Myanmar.

The government banned exports of wheat in 2006 to boost domestic supplies and cool inflation.

— Bloomberg


Great Eastern Energy’s half-year loss trebles

Amsterdam:Great Eastern Energy Corp. Ltd, a producer of coal bed methane gas in India, said its first-half loss more than tripled.

Great Eastern had a loss of $2.02 million (Rs9.8 crore) in six months ended 30 September, compared with a loss of $634,072 a year earlier, the company said on Thursday in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service.

— Bloomberg


Cisco will invest in China, says CEO

San Francisco: Cisco Systems Inc. will invest in China and India even as the global economy worsens, chief executive officer John Chambers said.

We will not make the classic mistake others made in 1997 during the downturn, when people pulled out, Chambers told analysts on Thursday at the company’s headquarters in San Jose, California. Cisco probably won’t invest as heavily in Mexico and Brazil, he said.

Cisco, the world’s biggest network equipment maker, generates about half of its $39.5 billion (Rs1.92 trillion) in annual revenue outside the US, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for 11% of the total. Cisco’s $27 billion in cash will help the company grow even amid the global slowdown, he said.

— Bloomberg


India may miss indirect tax target on recession

New Delhi: India may miss its target on indirect tax collection in the year to 31 March because of the global recession and concessions announced by the government, commerce secretary G.K. Pillai said on Thursday.

— Bloomberg


Core sector output grows 3.4% in october

New Delhi: The country’s core sector output grew 3.4% in October, down from 4.6% a year ago. During the first seven months of the current fiscal year (April-October), the six core-infrastructure industries grew 3.9% as compared to 6.6% during the same period last year.

During October, while production of crude oil and finished steel entered negative zone, production of coal and electricity, petroleum refinery products increased from their 2007 level.

Growth in cement production declined during the month, compared to the year-ago period.

The infrastructure sector accounts for 26.68% of India’s industrial output. Data of the index of industrial production, or IIP, is scheduled to be released on Friday.

— Asit Ranjan Mishra


DNA to be launched in Bangalore on 14 Dec

Bangalore: ‘Daily News and Analysis’, or DNA, an English daily brought out by Mumbai-based Diligent Media Corp. will launch its Bangalore edition on 14 December, with an initial print run of 175,000 copies, just over half the circulation figure it had projected earlier this year.

On 19 August, Mint had reported that the paper aimed to sell 300,000 copies at launch.

Bangalore is emerging as the country’s third largest print advertising market where seven English and at least 26 non-English dailies, apart from six business newspapers, are currently printed.

The ‘Times of India’ brought out by Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd dominates the city’s English newspaper market of some 650,000 copies daily, all papers put together.

K.U. Rao, chief executive officer of Diligent Media Corp., said the edition was being launched a month earlier than intended.

— Staff Writer


Newsweek to cut staff: report

New York: Leading US publication Newsweek magazine is planning to reduce its headcount as part of efforts at a major makeover, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says.

Quoting people familiar with the magazine, the WSJ said, Newsweek magazine is planning staff cuts as part of a major makeover that is likely to result in a slimmer publication with fewer subscribers and more photos and opinion inside its pages.

The Washington Post Co business is expected to outline the cuts today in two meetings, the daily added.

WSJ said that it isn’t clear how many jobs will be eliminated this time, though it won’t be nearly as many as 111 that Newsweek had shed earlier.

Newsweek is also considering other dramatic changes, including significantly reducing its rate base. Besides, the magazine could subtract anywhere from 500,000 to one million copies from its current guarantee of 2.6 million, the daily said quoting familiar sources.

Newsweek is seeking in part to mirror publications like the Economist, which has thrived in a tough market by focusing less on costly news gathering than on driving discussions of issues, the daily added.

So far this year weeklies have proven to be particularly vulnerable to the loss of advertisers and readers. Time magazine’s ad pages are off 17% and Newsweek is down an estimated 21%, with one fewer issue this year, according to trade publication Mediaweek.

Accordingly, both Time, part of Time Warner Inc, and Newsweek already have cut staff and their rate bases in the past two years.



ESPN STAR partnership with three broadcasters for ICC events

Singapore: ESPN STAR Sports has announced its partnerships with three major broadcasters to make International Cricket Council (ICC) events exclusively available to cricket fans across Pakistan, Canada and the USA for 2009-2011.

The deal has extended ESPN STAR’s broadcast distribution of the ICC events to more than 116 countries across the globe.

Under these agreements, Pakistan Television Network (PTV) has acquired the terrestrial television rights for the ICC events while ATN, Canada’s South Asian Broadcaster, and Willow TV, a leading portal for live internet streaming of international cricket events, have acquired multi-platform rights for television, internet and mobile to showcase all ICC events.

The ICC events will include Champions Trophy 2009, Women’s World Cup 2009, World Twenty20 2009 and 2010, Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2010 and World Cup 2011 in South Asia.

ICC Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat said: “This is good news for cricket. The ICC is delighted to have such a strong and committed partner in ESPN STAR Sports and it’s great to know that cricket fans in Canada, the US and Pakistan will be so well served by these deals."

“We are confident that the game will greatly benefit from these partnerships and fans across the globe will continue to enjoy the highest quality of production and presentation, Managing Director ESPN STAR Sports Manu Sawhney said.

“We are delighted to cement our relationship with PTV, ATN and Willow TV. These partnerships reinforce our commitment to set new benchmarks in the distribution of ICC events, and solidify our leadership position in the cricket broadcast industry," he added.



Pepsi plea dismissed

Kochi: Kerala High court has turned down the plea of soft-drink major Pepsico Holdings Ltd for a sales tax exemption of about Rs70 crore as per a 1993 state government order.

Dismissing a writ appeal by the company seeking the exemption, a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice K.M. Joseph said that Pepsi was not entitled to the benefit of government order as they had failed to fulfill the conditions in the order.

As per the government order, exemption was granted to new industrial units for seven years from the date of commencement of production. The tax exemption was applicable on turnover, sale of goods manufactured and sold within the state.

Certain conditions were imposed for grant of this benefit. One of them was that substantial portion of machinery had to be acquired before the cut off date of 1 January, 2000.

The bench held that substantial portion of the machinery had not been acquired by the company before the cut off date and hence it was not entitled for exemption.



Aviation growth slips by 1.94% this year

New Delhi: Less people are flew domestic skies this year compared with the last year. The country’s aviation sector has declined by 1.94% in the calendar year till October after a rapid 46.5% growth in 2006 and 32.5% in 2007 according to statement released by civil the aviation ministry. Domestic airlines like Jet Airways (India) Ltd and National Aviation Co. of India Ltd-run Air India flew 346.81 lakh passengers between January-October 2008 as against 353.67 lakhs passenger in the corresponding period of 2007.

— Tarun Shukla


DGCA frames new guidelines for airfare refunds

New Delhi: Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has framed new guidelines for airlines that will make it easier for passenger to get back refunds of their tickets. All airlines will now have to follow the new guidelines, according to a statement issued by the civil aviation ministry. Air tickets bought by credit card payments shall have to be refunded by the airlines within seven days of the cancellation to the account of credit card holder while in case of cash transactions refund shall be made immediately by the airline’s office from where the ticket was purchased. For tickets booked through travel agents, the arrangement for refund will be left to the passenger and the travel agent. DGCA has also madated that airlines shall necessarily return the passenger service fee or PSF of Rs225 collected by them on each ticket from the passengers on non-utilization/cancellation of tickets besides refund charges such as congestion charge, fuel surcharge etc. Also, passengers when being offered tickets for future travel, will be allowed an option for refund of money instantly.

The airlines should indicate in an unambiguous manner the amount of refund of money admissible on cancellation of a (future)ticket, Aviation Ministry said in a statement.

— Tarun Shukla


Govt to set up agency for emergencies

New Delhi: The government will work towards setting up an agency that will coordinate between various arms of the government and the media during emergencies like the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The agency will have representatives from various ministries of the central government as well as the media and will work to develop an operating procedure for media during emergencies, develop a system of official spokespersons that will brief the media during such events and also develop systems to train journalists to cover such events.

The decision was conveyed during a meeting on Wednesday convened by Anand Sharma, the minister of state for information and broadcasting, and attended by top bureaucrats from ministries of home, external affairs, information and broadcasting, civil aviation, tourism and representatives of leading news channels and two broadcast industry bodies—News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasting Foundation. This was the latest in a series of consultations the government has undertaken with media executives and editors since the attacks in Mumbai.

“The officials expressed concern that the continuing coverage of the attacks was negatively impacting the tourism and aviation sectors. The I&B secretary also said the industry must demonstrate that the self regulation code was working," said one person.

— Staff Writer