All eyes are on the upcoming Union Budget to be announced on 28th February. Many reforms are expected from the Budget. We spoke to leading broadcasters for their Budget wishlist.
Kartikeya Sharma, Group Chairman, ITV Group feels the expectation is very simple. He said, “We need to actually come to that magic number in terms of percentage growth that is required and I think at least the initial signals of the new govt are on the right track. There are certain issues, like ordinance, policies they are implementing, which are going to make a huge impact on growth. I think we are moving towards that direction, hopefully we will see lots of decisions being made in coming months.”
He added, “I am optimistic and positive that we are poised well and we are here to grow in the coming months and perhaps the next year as well. We should be ahead of China and I think that’s a very possible thing in terms of percentage GDP growth that we want to achieve. I think our time has come now and where we can create our names and mark on the world stage.”
M K Anand, CEO, Times Group hopes for ‘Acche Din’ with this government. He said, “Media industry relies to a great extent on advertising and that is best served when the general economic climate is positive. My simple expectation is that this Government's maiden budget is able to keep the faith of people, investors and businesses that there are clear steps towards Achche din that it has promised and on the back of which the markets have already reacted positively over the last 3 quarters. Overall, there should be clear structural correctional steps that are logical, feasible and credible. There are high expectations and that makes it all the more tougher. I feel, the budget will live up to them.”
Looking from the media industry perspective, some of the key expectations this year will be increase of Foreign Direct Investment in news, digitisation, concession in service tax, launching of new government oriented channels and boosting of local manufacturing of set top boxes.
The Union Budget 2015 is important from media industry point of view given that Arun Jaitley is also handling the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and all the leading broadcasters are anxious about the upcoming budget on February 28th.
Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group feels there is lot more for this industry in the budget. He said, “I think the budget is going to be very positive and it is going to uphold the promises and commitments made by our prime minister during his election campaigning and his entire team.”
He added, “I am confident that Mr Jaitley is going to do a fabulous job to bring back the growth story for India, and revive the consumer confidence in the economy to actually demonstrate to the world that India is on a very strong path of progress and I am very bullish on this budget.”
R K Arora, CEO, News Nation said, “This government completed almost a year and we are expecting there will be good amount of benefit to the consumer, either they will increase the slab rate or some other benefits. I don’t think there will be any benefit to the media , only the burden is service tax. It’s the major revenue now for government. I don’t think service tax will increased and it’ll remain same at 12.36 per cent.”
He added, “The most important part of the budget is if government completes digitisation and broadcasters can save money on carriage fees, otherwise there will be no scope for broadcasters.”
Last year the only big announcement for the media industry in the budget was ‘Kisan’ TV channel to be launched by DD at cost of INR1 billion (US$16 million): INR1 billion (US$16 million) for Community radio stations proposed.
Sharing his expectation, K B L Narayan Rao, Vice Chairperson, NDTV said, "I hope there is reasonable understanding this time from the government and it will help to sort the issues of broadcasting sector. Some of the immediate points important to broadcasting sector is to grant infrastructure status to the broadcasting sector including channels, DTH and cable just like it has been done in the telecom sector."
He also highlighted government should discuss digitization and there should be reduction on personal duties in the manufacturing of set top boxes.
Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV said, “From this budget we expect the broadcasting industry shall be granted infrastructure status in order to further push the digitization agenda of the government. We also expect a clarification that the transponder hire charges are not same as ‘Royalty’.
We additionally expect the reduction of customs duty on set top boxes to the earlier 5%. This we believe shall be important in order to stimulate growth of digitization in phase III & IV.”