What Media expects from Union Budget 2019

From reduction in GST to improvement in credit growth and internet infrastructure in rural areas, here’s what media heads want from the government

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Jul 3, 2019 8:23 AM  | 7 min read

The first Union Budget of the Narendra Modi government 2.0 will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5. The Budget is likely to focus on agrarian crisis, tax reliefs, job creation etc. The interim Budget was presented on February 1 by then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal who made some important announcements such as income tax reliefs, tax exemption for investors and expansion of rural industrialisation etc.

As the country waits for the announcements, we caught up with heads of some media houses to know what they want from the Union Budget this time. From improving credit growth to abolishment of 5 per cent GST on the import of newsprint, take a look at what they expect from the government.

M K Anand, MD & CEO, Times Network

We expect some clear signals from the government to improve credit growth and investment cycle. There are signs of a slowdown that we expect this Budget to address. That includes increased outlay on infrastructure and addressing a distressed farm sector urgently. The New Tariff Order has positive impact in the long term. But in the immediate term, consumers are complaining of change in price, value equation. There may be a case to look at reducing GST for a year. This will be a great solace to consumers and the industry.

Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama

The Union Budget 2019 should help the disposable income go up to encourage consumption. It should look at rationalisation of taxes, GST etc. The government should also concentrate on infrastructure development and set up policies that will push the economy further. India should become a manufacturing destination. The government should give the media freedom to do its job rather than resorting to practices like embargo on advertising to those who report against them.

MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director, Mathrubhumi 

Introduction of a 5 per cent GST on print advertising has affected the already ailing print business. The print budget, instead of proportionally increasing, was restricted to include the added GST component. The case is almost similar with 18 per cent GST for TV, Radio and Online advertising. The reduction of Corporate Tax to 25 per cent has been a long-standing requirement. Abolishment of 5 per cent GST on the import of newsprint should be taken into consideration. The Budget should also consider the extension of tax reduction on low-speed machinery used for newsrooms and allied production activities.  

Abhinav Khare, Group CEO, Asianet News Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd.

 After a significant growth in digital penetration and digital literacy in the country, it's now time for the government to focus more on Tier 2/3 and rural sectors. The upcoming Budget must further the agenda of the Digital India revolution, which focuses on upgrading the IT infrastructure and internet penetration so that the rural masses are included. The government must also commit and allocate budget towards more research and training with this regard. The last Budget was an extremely positive one with the 10-point agenda for 2030 which spoke of the set-up of digital villages in an effort to drive digital inclusion. We can only expect the same from this Budget. The new mandate from the government in tandem with the upcoming 5G revolution should drive more rural population online and we should see a manifold increase in vernacular content and media.

Sitaraman Shankar, Editor, Deccan Herald

It’s a new term and a new Finance Minister, but some of the challenges she faces have built up over the years, foremost among which is job creation. Luckily, given that inflation is benign, there is the opportunity to put money in the hands of consumers in order to give the economy a push.

B Srinivasan, Managing Director, Vikatan Group

Being the first Budget of Modi government 2.0 and the very first of Finance Minister  Nirmala Sitharaman, the common man’s expectations from this Budget is one that triggers growth. The Media and Advertising industry is one in which consumption growth is already happening at a frantic pace. However, we are dependent on spends of advertisers who in turn wait for increased consumer spends. We sincerely believe that this Budget will trigger credit growth that results in industrial activity, which in turn is expected to trigger consumption growth.

The automobile industry, one of the major economic indicators, has registered a continuous negative growth for the 8th consecutive month, and this sector is a bellwether for growth projections in India. With the hangover from the General Elections, IPL and World Cup in the first quarter of this Financial Year, we believe a Budget that enhances money in the hands of the common man will be the first priority of the government.

Yet, the slightly delayed monsoon season is expected to lead to a lower rural income and that will further accentuate the existing negative demand cycle. With the policy continuity and economic stability on the cards, I would expect the government to put forward growth-oriented policies to trigger demand-led growth. 

PR Satheesh, COO, MMTV

A Budget that brings in positivity and cheer to the industry and common man will help loosen up the purse - that could mean greater productivity and increased consumption.

Boby Paul, General Manager, Manormaonline

The Union Budget 2019 should take into consideration lowering the Digital Media Services charges from the current 18% to a chewable 12 to 15%. Kerala specific wish list for the Union Budget is for a better support from Centre to re-build the flood-hit state, both in infrastructure and the local/retail economy.

Ranjeet Kate, CEO, Vijay Karnataka

Media industry reflects the economic progress of the country. Advertisers, private or government, utilise media to build brands and drive sales. Hence, the key expectation from the coming Union Budget is to drive the Indian economy to higher rates of growth.

Last few years, the Indian GDP was primarily driven by consumption and investment. However, currently, consumption is also doing badly. Hence, we expect Budget to have measures which separately drive consumption and investment.

The newspaper industry attracts a lot of interest-rate sensitive clients. This covers verticals like real-estate, auto, BFSI, durables, electronics etc. These advertisers would like the rate of interest on loans to be affordable and loans widely available. We hope Budget would act on this critical area.

Varun Kohli, CEO, ITV Network 

It has to be a Budget for middle class and for increasing demand. While focusing on agrarian crisis is key, creating positive sentiments to push demand in key categories is equally important.

B Surendar, COO, RED FM Network 

At a broader level, one would definitely expect the government to take strong measures to spur economic growth which seems to be showing some signs of a slowdown of late. Critical sectors such as auto, BFSI, real estate and telecom may require attention. The proposed push to digital and infrastructure areas initiated in the interim Budget in Feb’19 needs to be taken forward.

The Media and Entertainment sector, which undoubtedly offers tremendous growth and employment potential, would expect issues related to investment, tax and content security to be addressed on priority.

As far as the radio industry is concerned, slashing of the GST rate to 5% to bring it on par with Print (the other powerful local medium) is of great importance as we are a free-to-air medium almost fully dependent on ad revenues. The other important expectation is w.r.t reduction of duties on imported equipment used by our industry to help business viability as we are poised to expand into much smaller cities through the last batch of phase 3 expansion.

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