IBF AGM in New Delhi this evening

The contentious issue of service tax on broadcasters is expected to figure prominently on the agenda of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, which holds its annual general meeting in New Delhi this evening.

The Foundation is also likely to discuss the Convergence Bill, cable piracy and the IBF report on Tam-Intam, tabled recently. The IBF recently barred airtime sellers and production houses from becoming board members in the association. At an EGM held in the last week of October 2001, the Foundation decided to bar these from becoming primary members too, in order to focus on major issues faced by broadcasters. Today's AGM could make a start in this direction by taking up the matter of protecting broadcasters' interests against payment defaults by ad agencies, a long pending issue.

The contentious issue of five per cent service tax on broadcasting services could well rank high on today's agenda. The central government had, earlier this year, issued a notification widening the service tax net by adding 15 new services, which include MSOs and broadband players. The IBF is piloting a representation to the government that the recepient of the service (ad agencies apart from others) should also shoulder the additional tax burden.

The Foundation may also have another issue to look at if it takes a lead from I&B minister Sushma Swaraj's comments yesterday. Addressing a round table discussion on broadcasting rights and responsibilities in Chennai on Tuesday, Swaraj said that the IBF should identify an ideal mix of public service and commercial broadcast and look at wider issues as well.

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