Indian Broadcasting Foundation, the apex body of the broadcasters in the country with more than 400 channels and 90 per cent of the viewership of the country, said in a press statement today, “Just like the print media, which has been clamouring for a zero rating of newspapers under the new GST regime, fuming under mass retrenchment and closing down of various editions, the electronic medium and the radio though bleeding under cancellations of advertisements over 2000 crores have requested the government to treat them at par with the print counterpart as they cater to imparting of not only news, entertainment but also help educate the masses.”
IBF President PunitGoenkasaid, “It is important that government recognises TV services, which have evolved over the years as a product/service of mass consumption to be classified and categorized under the item of mass consumption having a GST rate of 5 per cent so that it becomes affordable to the masses. Not only does it provide infotainment, entertainment, and influence public opinion but unlike the other mediums is also not constricted by level of literacy and is education agnostic. Going by the number of TV households, which stands at currently 120 million, we submit to the government that broadcast services i.e. TV & RADIO must be treated at par with the PRINT in the new GST regime. This submission is based entirely on the fact that TV services have become integral part of everyday life to the vast majority in the country and the general economic downturn globally has impacted the sector extensively.”
As per the information updated by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting on 31st December 2016, there are 899 channels in the country out of which 399 are news and current affairs channels and 500 are non-news and current affairs channel. Some News channels shutting down precipitously or handing over pink slips on a mass scale is not something unheard of, however little does it find mention in the inks of the newspapers or the air time of the channels. Combine this with overcrowding of channels for the same advertising pie, which itself has squeezed following demonetization and the rising infrastructure and 'content cost', it seems that many licenses would get either get cancelled or submitted voluntarily by the stakeholders.