Yahoo has become the latest casualty of India’s new foreign direct investment (FDI) rules which forced the internet company to shut down its news service websites.
The new FDI rules, which came out in late 2019, limit foreign ownership of media companies that operate and publish digital content in India. Under the rules, digital news media companies in India can accept up to 26% investment in the form of foreign investment, subject to approval from the central government.
Under the rules, Verizon Media-owned Yahoo India would have to restructure its entire media business within a specified timeframe to operate the country’s news and current affairs business.
“As of August 26th, 2021 Yahoo India will no longer be publishing content. We have ceased publication of content in India and have shut down Yahoo’s content operations in the country. The content offerings closed include Yahoo News, Yahoo Cricket, Finance, Entertainment and MAKERS India,” are not affected in any way and will operate as usual. We thank you for your support and readership,” Yahoo said in a notice on its India website.
The company, however, said that users will still be able to use their Yahoo Account, mail and the search service as the new rules don’t affect non-content services.
Verizon Media-owned news publication Huffington Post had also shut its operations in India due to the changes in the FDI rules for digital media organisations.
“We did not come to this decision lightly. However, Yahoo India has been impacted by changes to regulatory laws in India that now limit the foreign ownership of media companies that operate and publish digital content in India,” Yahoo said in the FAQ section.
Yahoo has had a long association with India, and “we’re really proud of the premium, local content we have provided our users here for the last 20 years,” it said.
Yahoo said that its cricket service, Yahoo Cricket, has a ‘news’ component, which is why it was impacted under the new FDI regulations “that limit foreign ownership of media companies that operate and publish digital content in India in the ‘News and Current Affairs’ space.”
It, however, clarified that Yahoo Mail service is not covered by FDI regulations for digital media and is therefore not impacted by this change.
“Yahoo Mail will continue to operate in India as normal,” it said, adding that users’ email ID will remain unchanged.
On the question about its return in India, the company in the FAQ section said, “We’ve had a long association with India and remain open to opportunities that connect us to users here.”