No sops for cable and DTH in Budget 2011

MUMBAI: The drive to digitisation has found no special favours in the Budget for 2011-12, disappointing both cable TV operators and direct-to-home (DTH) service provivers who were expecting sops on set-top boxes.

IndusInd Media & Communications managing director and chief executive Ravi Mansukhani said, “The I&B Ministry should have convinced the Finance Ministry to drop the duty the government imposes on the set-top-boxes. It would have given a feeler to the world that the government is serious about digitisation. We were expecting a deduction in the custom duty and rationalisation of the tax structure. However, there is nothing.”
The fast growing DTH sector also could not find any relief that the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had on offer for them. Terming the Budget as a “setback” to the industry, Bharti Airtel Director and CEO digital TV services Ajai Puri said: “We were expecting that this time government will remove the custom duty on import of STBs. As almost 95 per cent of boxes are imported, it is an undue burden.”
Dish TV India MD and former Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) president Jawahar Goel agreed that the media industry had nothing to cheer about from the Budget. “The distribution business is highly taxed. DTH is considered as a service sector by the central government and an entertainment sector by the state governments. Both impose taxes on us and the government has done nothing to change the status quo.”

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