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Budget 2014: FDI hike, simplified taxes, boost to DAS top M&E industry’s wish list

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Budget 2014: FDI hike, simplified taxes, boost to DAS top M&E industry’s wish list

With the stage set for the presentation of the first ever Budget by the new Modi-Led Government on July 10, 2014, expectations of all sectors of the economy are at an all time high. The Budget session of Parliament commenced on July 7 and in a reflection of the buoyant mood of the nation, the Sensex breached the 26,000-mark.

The media and entertainment industry especially is looking for better sops and some positive announcements in the Budget, more so after the encouraging statements made by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar to give a fresh boost to the M&E industry.

Even as the fate of the M&E industry is enclosed in the briefcase of Finance Minster Arun Jaitley, the industry is expecting good news regarding hike in FDI, tax relief, revival of the economy, a shot in the arm for the news industry, reforms in key sectors of the economy and more.

exchange4media spoke to some leading news broadcasters on their expectations from the Modi Government’s first ever Budget, and this is what they had to say…

Ashok Venkatramani, CEO, MCCS felt that there is a lot of hope from the new Government to kickstart the economy and present a growth-oriented Budget. He said, “There has been a slowdown in the growth rate of the economy and also the media industry. A growth-oriented budget will help build advertiser confidence, which will, in turn, revive the broadcast industry.”

Venkatramani has highlighted three major points that need to be included in this Budget that will help in the growth of the news industry:
• Revival of the industry, which will help revive the financial sector as well, while IPOs/ FDI will help the news industry
• Special emphasis on reforms in sectors such as infrastructure, financial services, automobiles, and education, which will help the news industry
• Hiking FDI in news to 49 per cent and allowing news broadcasting in FM radio will be steps in the right direction to help the news industry

Meanwhile, MK Anand, CEO, Times Television Network expected announcement of subsidies on STBs and relief from multiple tax points such as VAT and service tax on content in Budget 2014-15.

On the issue of FDI, Kartikeya Sharma, Managing Director, ITV Network said that he doesn’t expect the FDI to go up in the television space, especially not beyond 49 per cent, because he felt that the domestic players are not ready for this to happen. He added, “Other than that, I hope the Government does make some fundamental changes in the aspects that directly and indirectly involve the print and television industry.”

On his wish list regarding boost for the digitisation process, Sharma hoped that there will be more indigenous manufacturing of set top boxes. “If the Government is able to remove some of the duties and make the process easier for the implementation of DAS Phase 3 and 4, it will be huge boon for the industry as far as the television space is concerned,” he stressed.

The slow adoption of DAS in the designated areas in different phases has been a frequent complaint of the broadcast industry. The process has been hampered by non-availability of set top boxes, infrastructure issues, and reluctance on the part of consumers. Slow implementation has been a major roadblock in introducing a subscription-based revenue system, which would have given a boost to broadcasters’ earnings.

It’s just a two-days’ wait to know whether the Modi-Government’s first Budget will meet the media and entertainment industry’s expectations and usher in ‘achche din’ (good days) for the industry or leave a lot to be desired.

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