Budget 2019: Industry gives a thumbs up to govt’s digital push

Single-window clearance for film shoots, introduction of anti-camcording provision in Cinematography Act to fight piracy also bring cheer

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 2, 2019 8:50 AM

Weeks before the general elections, the Narendra Modi government on Friday presented what is being called a ‘please-all’ Budget. Playing to the gallery, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal announced sops for the middle class, increasing the income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh.

A major highlight of the Budget was the big digital push. The government announced that it will set up 1 lakh digital villages in 5 years. Goyal said that India has done very well in the delivery of mobile data services and the cost of data in India is now possibly the lowest in the world. It was also announced that a national centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is under consideration. Along with that a national AI portal will be developed soon.

Giving big relief to the entertainment & media industry, the government announced that a single-window clearance will be made available to filmmakers and anti-camcording provision will be introduced in Cinematography Act to fight piracy.

We caught up with industry leaders to understand what they think of the Budget. Take a look at what they shared: 

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18

The Finance Minister has provided a tremendous fillip to the Indian entertainment industry with the provision of single-window clearance for films. Such policy provisions that seek to enhance ease of doing business will help the Rs156 bn industry grow at a faster clip. I also welcome the move to include anti-camcording provisions as part of the Cinematography Act. This will ensure that in-theatre pirated recordings now become a penal offense and will act as a strong deterrent to piracy.

Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City  

The pro-growth Budget addresses key factors such as lessening GST burden on homebuyers, rural development and providing a boost for SMEs. We are hopeful that this will increase the domestic spending power of organisations, build consumer confidence and provide a boost to our economy as we steer towards a ‘New India’. As the radio industry gears up for a transformational year with the convergence of media, technology and telecom industries, government’s vision to further accelerate the Digital India programme will help streamline this transition positively.

Aashish Singh, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures

Single-window clearance for Indian filmmakers is a very welcome move and brings Indian film making at par with the evolved international destinations where filming is easy. This will also save time for the producers and discourage malpractices that were being followed by some of the authorities in granting permissions to shoot films.

Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions 

This year’s budget brings nothing but good news to the entertainment industry. The government, via a single-window clearance for film makers, has made a commendable effort to streamline and simplify procedures and permissions. This will not only make it simple for domestic productions, but foreign film makers as well, hence improving the media landscape. With recent films being leaked to the audiences within days of its release, the Anti-camcording provision comes as a boon to the industry which has been fighting piracy all these years and suffering huge losses in the process. Lastly, a step in the right direction with regards to a national centre for artificial intelligence will only lead into companies implementing these modern technologies into their products. When we look at the bigger picture, the customer experience is only going to improve going by these recent announcements.

Rajesh Mishra, CEO- Indian Operations, UFO Moviez

We believe that this is a great move for the Indian film industry. We welcome the government’s initiative, to introduce the anti-camcording provision as part of the Cinematography Act to fight against piracy. This will give teeth to the law to take stringent action against the offender. We are sure this a very pragmatic step ahead by the government and will ensure the reduction of losses the film industry incurs.

Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana

We are extremely positive about the implication of the proposed Budget and strongly believe in the Digital Revolution introduced by the government. The increased consumption of mobile data in the last five years has paved way for the streaming market in India. It will impact the mobile streaming industry in multiple ways, mainly by strengthening penetration in tier II and tier III markets while also increasing exposure among a new set of a potential user base. Enhancing stickiness for the app and encouraging trials, the vision for Digital India will help music streaming apps attain its full potential in the online music space. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence coupled with Big Data will help bridge the gap between demand and supply through insightful analysis of evolving consumer preferences.

Saugata Gupta, MD & CEO, Marico Limited

Simplified tax assessment processes coupled with the increase in tax exemption for income up to Rs 5 lakh per annum for individual tax payers will not only reduce the tax burden on the middle class citizens but also increase the tax payer base in India. It will additionally result in the rise of disposable income in the hands of consumers thereby augmenting consumption. Given its focus on masses, this Budget should place higher disposable income in the hands of a large section of the society which augers well for consumer goods sector in general and rural growth more specifically. Another welcome feature of the Budget was the focus on digital India and building an all-encompassing digital infrastructure.

Krishna Rao, Sr. Category Head, Parle Products

I would call it a progressive budget that will surely help India grow. The attention paid to the welfare, health and other needs of the farmers is commendable. Moreover, the reduction in leakages and increase in transparency for execution of various benefit schemes by the government is also a welcome move.

From a consumer’s perspective, the increase in tax exemption limit, coupled with the increase in gratuity limit will lead to more disposable income in the consumer’s hands. Consequently, this means more consumption of consumer goods and services across the board, which will play a vital part in the growth of the economy. Overall, it is an all-encompassing Budget that covers all sections of society, right from farmers to corporates and the middle class and will lead to an upbeat nation in the coming months.

Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairperson, Zirca Digital Solutions Pvt Ltd

The interim Budget will give impetus to the rural economy and relief to the middle classes. The provision for a pension scheme for the unorganized workers, including domestic help, has been long awaited and is a welcome move. This being interim Budget, much was not expected for our industry. However the digital industry will definitely grow with the special attention been given to it in today's session.

CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tech Mahindra

With digital and renewable energy at its core, Budget 2019 is reflective of India’s commitment to foster the growth of an inclusive, sustainable economy. It is great to see the government’s vision align with our overall goal to promote the adoption of new age technology such as Artificial Intelligence that will lay the foundation of a new, digitized India. The government’s decision to build 1 lakh digital villages is a step in the right direction to bridge the urban-rural divide and as an industry, we are committed to making this vision come true - Make in India + Digital India = Modern & Equitable India.

Hiren Shah, Founder & CEO, Vertoz

The interim Budget has laid out a clear vision for the country’s development in the coming decade, and digital plays an important role with the government stressing on the development of digital infrastructure and digital economy. It was also heartening to know that India is now leading the world with the highest mobile data consumption and has witnessed a growth of 50 times in the last five years. The finance minister also mentioned that the delivery of mobile data services has seen significant growth. Coupled with the government’s vision of converting 1 lakh villages into digital villages, we will see a deeper penetration of the internet not only in tier II and tier III markets but also in rural areas. This will broaden the horizon for digital advertising, and consequently for programmatic advertising in these markets, thus providing an opportunity to brands and marketers to cater to the customer needs with bespoke products and services.

We are also happy to see AI as a focal part of the Budget for Digital India. This support will ensure that AI, supported by Big Data, will enable the industry to successfully analyse consumer patterns with minimised human intervention. This also brings in the benefits of automation such as more efficiency and faster processing of data for advertising, thus allowing brands to get sales faster and within an effective timeline.

Jitender Singh, Founder & CEO, MiniDukan

The plan to set up 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years is great news for companies that deal with customers in Tier 4 to 6 towns. Digitization of rural areas has increasingly become a necessity as a large section of our consumers are based there. In addition, the provision that SMEs earning less than Rs 5 crore will have to file GST only once in three months is sure a relief. The greatest benefit for us will be the reduction of taxes on salaried individuals which will result in greater buying power, something that we have been hoping to achieve. This Budget is sure to provide a great boost to the overall performance of SMEs.

Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group

We welcome the government’s keen focus on building a digitally vibrant India in the next few years. This will provide an opportunity for companies such as Syska to introduce IoT-enabled products that are affordable in the Indian market and help in developing smart cities. Additionally, as energy-efficient product & solutions are seeing increased adoption, we are pleased with the government providing 143 crore LED bulbs to rural areas. This resonates with our mission of providing energy efficient LED lighting solutions that are ‘Made in India’ to every Indian household.

Mitesh Shah, Head of Finance, BookMyShow

The interim Budget for 2019 has been a shot in the arm for several sections of the society through its tax relief measures for the middle class and mega schemes for farmers. 

We appreciate the Budget’s recognition of India’s start-up ecosystem’s contribution to the economy and the creation of a Digital India in Vision 2030 is indicative of the long road ahead for this ecosystem. The Budget, however, did not offer clarity on issues surrounding the angel tax much to the dismay of the industry’s expectations. Facilitating a conducive growth environment for such companies is key and hence, clarity around taxation and the regulatory environment will further help build a strong technology ecosystem which can contribute to the government’s vision of India as a $5 trillion economy over the next 5 years.

It is probably for the first time in several years that the entertainment industry has been hailed as a force of employment generation. While the Finance Minister has offered incentives to the film industry, it is also worth recognising the huge scope that live entertainment offers, for employment and growth of the Indian economy. We hope that the GST Council along with the government can find solutions to streamline the existing tax structures for this sector as well and bring it below the current rate of 28% to enable a well-rounded ecosystem.

We whole-heartedly support the government’s move to curb piracy through the introduction of the anti-camcording provision in the Cinematography Act. With these measures, we expect the regulatory framework of the entertainment industry to significantly change for the better.

Rajnish Kumar, CTO & Co-founder, ixigo

The new national scheme announced by the government on AI is a futuristic scheme which will promote the use of technology and digitisation. The government’s efforts in providing the necessary AI support required by start-ups further emphasises the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. Efforts to establish 1 lakh digital villages is also a positive step towards strengthening digital penetration in rural India and will significantly increase the adoption of digital platforms across masses.

Jigar Zatakia, Founder & CEO, FirstEconomy 

Target to digitise 5 lakh villages over the next 5 years should provide added impetus to the government’s vision of "minimum government maximum governance". This will give digital marketers like us an opportunity to reach the untapped markets and customer base who has been difficult to reach to, and help us deliver better ROIs on the investment done by brands. The Startup India Program continues to motivate the youth to become job providers rather than job seekers which has made India the second largest hub for start-ups. While the macro picture does look very attractive, on the micro front, while we are happy with the 5% relief in the income tax to MSME's we were expecting some relief on the 6% equalization levy that we need to pay on all payments  done to foreign publishers which hasn't come in. All in all the present Govt in its Robinhood avatar seems to have belied public expectation of a vote on account budget by transforming it into a surgical strike on high tax rates that our country has been struggling with for years" 

Arun Gupta, Founder and CEO, MoMAGIC Technologies 

The national programme on AI by the Indian government is the right direction to create grass root level interest among Indian techies. With Big Data and analytics, AI will play a key role in several areas including retail, logistics, pharma, e-commerce and security etc. We also foresee AI tech to push the AdTech Setor and in turn the digital marketing and mobile marketing.

Siddharth Hegde, MD, Ethinos Digital Marketing

This is a positive Budget from digital perspective and clearly the government is determined not only on delivering on its current promises but also delivering on its promise of a complete digital revolution in India. The 10-point agenda for 2030 and the set-up of digital villages is going to drive digital inclusion. The low data costs are going to drive more for the rural population online and we are likely to see an explosion in vernacular content. This is also likely to give marketers an option to have a more measurable pipe to the rural masses. This Budget is a great start.

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