Mali’s junta bans the media from reporting on political activities in a deepening crackdown

LONDON: The BBC in India is set to divide its news operations into two entities to comply with the country’s foreign investment regulations, the broadcaster announced on Wednesday.

Effective immediately, the restructuring will involve the establishment of a new Indian-owned subsidiary named the Collective Newsroom, through which the network will continue its content production in India.

BBC, known for its six regional channels broadcasting in various Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, and Punjabi, intends to hold a 26 percent stake in Collective Newsroom, allowing it to maintain significant independence from the parent broadcaster.

This development follows stringent regulations implemented by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2021, mandating limited foreign ownership in national media entities.

“The BBC for the first time in its history has handed over content to an outside company set up by employees,” said one of the corporation’s journalists to the Financial Times.

The move comes a year after BBC India’s offices were searched by authorities.

The income tax officials conducted the searches shortly after the broadcaster aired a documentary critical of Modi in the UK, though not in India.

At the time, the government maintained that the timing of the raids was unrelated to the documentary, which drew condemnation from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

In response, emergency laws were invoked to prohibit the sharing of any clips or footage from the documentary.

The government contended that the raids were part of an investigation into the BBC’s alleged violation of India’s stringent foreign investment regulations, accusing it of not fully disclosing profits.

Prior to the split, the UK broadcaster, which has had a presence in India since 1940, had around 300 journalists in India, with approximately 90 expected to remain directly employed by the BBC’s UK branch.

Collective Newsroom, founded by four BBC staffers, will absorb the remaining former BBC employees.

The new company will also be able to make content for other news providers across India and globally.

Rupa Jha, chief executive of Collective Newsroom, said the new company has “a clear, ambitious mission to create the most credible, creative and courageous journalism.”

She added: “Audiences will quickly come to know Collective Newsroom as an independent news organization that leads with the facts, works in the public interest and hears from diverse voices and perspectives.”

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