There have been mixed reactions to the maiden Budget of the Modi Government, but most in the industry agree that it is aimed at giving a boost to the economy and spur growth.
For the media and entertainment industry, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made some significant announcements. However, one primary demand of the media and entertainment industry – the hiking of FDI, especially in news media – remained unaddressed in the Union Budget 2014.
Meanwhile, on the one hand, digital players are bemoaning the re-introduction of service tax on sale of advertising space on online and mobile platforms, on the other hand, print players remain exempted from service tax on sale of advertising space.
The Finance Minster, in his Budget speech, had said, “To broaden the tax base in Service Tax, it is necessary to prune the negative list and exemptions to the extent possible. Accordingly, the negative list has been reviewed and service tax liveable currently, on sale of space or time for advertisements in broadcast media, is being extended to cover such sales on other segments like online and mobile advertising. Sale of space for advertisements in print media however would remain excluded from service tax. Similarly, tax is being proposed on the service provided by radio-taxis to place them on par with rent-a-cab service. These new levies will come into effect from a date to be notified after the passing of the Finance Bill.”
Commenting on Budget 2014, KVL Narayan Rao, President, NBA and Vice Chairperson, NDTV Group remarked that there is nothing specific for media and entertainment in the Budget. He added, “I am very pleased to find a significant reference to digitisation in the Economic Survey.”
Calling the Budget a pragmatic one, MK Anand, CEO, Times Television Network said, “It will preserve the positive sentiment and put the economy on a growth path. There is a reason to cheer on the income tax front as there is some more disposable income in the consumers’ hands. Overall, these are good for ad spends and entertainment expenditure; good for the M&E sector.”
According to Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV, “It is not just a Budget, it is a direction of the Government. Arun Jaitley has touched upon all sectors and sections of the society. This Budget will encourage investment and revive the economy. It has taken care of women, minorities, senior citizens and the middle class. What I liked most is the effort by Jaitley to preserve our dying art and heritage.”
Meanwhile, on the Budget proposal to set up Kisan TV for the farming community, Jawhar Sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharati said, “We are glad that the Government wants us to set up a dedicated channel for the farmers, concentrating on this huge responsibility.”