Though the 2017 Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley focussed on farming sector, youth, infrastructure, poor and underprivileged health care, the financial sector for stronger institutions and tax administration amongst others, the media and entertainment industry, especially broadcasting industry seems to be overlooked. Despite that, the broadcasters lauded the government’s efforts and are of the opinion that the budget will trigger economic growth in a structured manner.
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) commends the FM’s efforts and even welcomes his proposal to allow carry forward of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) up to a period of 15 years instead of the present 10 years. But IBF seems disappointed as the government didn’t consider its earlier request of granting ‘Infrastructure Status’ for the broadcasting industry. Girish Srivastava, Secretary General of IBF, says, “The Foundation was, however, extremely hopeful that the government would consider the suggestion for granting ‘Infrastructure Status’ to the broadcasting industry along with permission to carry forward of losses in case of amalgamation or merger as that would have made the M&E sector a more viable engine of speedy growth.”
MK Anand, MD & CEO, Times Network, looked at the positive side. “After the recent massive policy implementation of demonetisation, my expectation was of some radical reforms. I was a bit disappointed on that count. However, enhanced provision for MNREGA and allocations for rural, agriculture and allied sector and a clear push for the affordable housing sectors are the silver linings. Agriculture and real estate are the most important employment -generating sectors in India. This should improve the rural situation which is still recovering from demonetisation. Hopefully that will have a ripple effect on spending and the larger economy,” he says.
Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 and Chairman, Media and Entertainment Committee, CII, believes this budget will have a positive impact on M&E industry. "Much had been speculated about the economic slowdown post demonetisation. With this budget, the government has taken important steps to boost the economy in a structured manner, building on the promise of transparent growth. Steps to liberalise the FDI regime further coupled with the abolishment of FIPB and tax reforms for MSMEs are bound to have impact in the foreseeable future. This budget has seen some positive solutions to tackle poverty in our country including one of the highest allocation of funds to MNREGA and rationalisation of rate for the lower personal tax slabs. I am particularly enthused by the strong reforms push for digitisation and look forward to digital transactions increasing in the country. This also augurs well for digital consumption of video content. The move to cap political donations in cash at Rs 2000 and all cash transactions at 300,000 are also much-needed, bold steps that are in line with the government’s commitment to uprooting corruption. With Swaach Bharat (mission) being close to our hearts, the budget has built further on this theme in a welcome move. I’ve said this before and will say it again, as the M&E sector we have a lot to gain from buoyancy in the economy at the aggregate level and I believe this budget has delivered on that front,” says Vats.
Manav Dhanda, Group CEO, SABGROUP, felt that no increase in service tax is positive for the M&E industry, as he says, “Overall there have been positives for the media and entertainment sector post the Union Budget. As digitisation is the next big thing now, the end of March 2018 will see a great growth for digital video consumption across OTT. The youth can now have great opportunities laid for them by initiating the skill India mission that aims to start 100 India International centres. Also, since digitisation is on a high, setting up high speed internet in 1.50 lakh Gram Panchayat is a good move and will give a boost to internet penetration in India. There is no increase in service tax by the government and this is a positive outcome, particularly for the M&E sector. A stable and positive fiscal situation is good for the economy, which will also give an impetus to our advertising sales projections. Increased public spending through various schemes and focus on infrastructure investments should further help to accelerate economic growth. The economy seems to have been slowing down since demonetisation, impacting almost all sectors and one hopes the budget to act as a catalyst to propel the growth in the media sector as well.”