London, January 15:

Faced with slowing sales and dipping profits, foreign media houses are increasingly eyeing India, one of the most attractive markets globally, thanks to a robust economy and easing of stiff investment rules.

India’s thriving media industry, which was shut for foreign firms until not long ago, today counts Britain’s Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times, Independent News and Media, Turner International and BBC Worldwide as its recent investors. As the newspaper, television and radio boom rages in India on the back of increasing consumerism and rising literacy levels, a raft of other overseas investors are firming up plans to get a slice of the action.

“China and India are the two main attractions for overseas investors in all sectors,” said Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO of Mindshare India, the local arm of the London-headquartered media investments management firm. “But China is completely closed for investors in the media sector. This has made India a good investment option for foreign investors who are badly battling for retaining market shares in their own countries,” Srivastava said, “All this while the Indian media sector was, more or less, run by the government. Now with the gradual liberalisation in the sector, the overall market is growing very rapidly.”

India won a major vote of confidence this month when BBC Worldwide, the British broadcaster’s commercial arm, invested four million pounds in the unit’s first move into overseas markets. BBC Worldwide has bought a 20 per cent stake in Radio Mid-Day West, a subsidiary of Mid-Day Multimedia, a listed media group.