MIB released an Office Memorandum dated June 25, 2014 (“Memorandum”) clarifying that Indian broadcaster companies (that have the permission to uplink/downlink TV channels) which have already obtained security clearance (including security clearance of the directors on the board of the company) from the Home ministry, need not seek fresh security clearance when applying for an additional channel during the validity of the previous security clearance. The security clearance is intended to be valid until the period of permission granted to the TV channel, i.e., for a period of 10 years..

As a matter of background, the MIB, after discussions with the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) had decided vide its Office Memorandum dated January 10, 2014 that in case a company which has already obtained security clearance from the MHA applies for additional channels, fresh security clearance would have to be sought, and that the period of validity of security clearance should be kept as 10 years which could be co-terminus with the period of permission of the TV channel. The period of fresh security clearance would also be for a period of 10 years.

However, the MIB faced problems in implementing this process as there was unprecedented delay in the grant of permission for additional channels where security clearance subsisted in favour of the company and its board of directors. The industry too raised concerns on the delays in the grant of permission for additional TV channels.

In order to curb this issue, the MIB has, with the Memorandum, restored the earlier practice and as a result, security clearance is no longer required in case a security cleared company (with the same directors – which have already obtained security clearance) seeks permission for additional TV channels within the validity period. Thus, MIB has decided to grant permission to those companies which have applied for permission for additional TV channel(s) during the subsistence of the security clearance already obtained previously.