Television

IBF petitions Swaraj for tax sops

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NEW DELHI: Broadcasters operating in India have sought relief from the government, including tax sops.

They met information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj recently under the aegis of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) as part of a pre-Budget meeting and submitted a memorandum on the issues they want resolved. 

"The IBF members did meet me to present their pre-Budget memorandum and I have assured them that the ministry will do its utmost to have the grievances redressed," Swaraj said today, adding that the broadcasters also lauded the government's initiative on conditional access and extended help in bringing about addressability in Indian cable homes.

The three main issues that the broadcasters want resolved or looked into by the government are:

- Waiver of five per cent service tax imposed on broadcasting services 

- Lowering of customs duty on equipment meant for broadcasting

- Resolving the issues of tax that is deducted at source by the government.

According to Swaraj, while the first two issues are likely to be taken up by her during her meetings with finance minister Jaswant Singh, she advised the broadcasters to petition the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on the last issue. 

During 2001-02, the government had levied five per cent service charge on the likes of studio and recording facilities that, the broadcasting industry had said, would have a negative impact on a sector which was still developing in India. 

Since then the issue has cropped up time and again and, earlier this year even resulted in some broadcasters like Star India and Sony Entertainment TV India refusing advertisements from companies and their agencies which did not include five per cent service tax in the release order. 

On the customs duty, the IBF's viewpoint is that the various duties levied on equipment meant for broadcasting is not at par with those meant for the IT industry, even when the same equipment was used by both the IT and broadcasting industries.

"The broadcasters felt a separate duty is levied on a equipment which they brought in , while a lower duty was levied when the same equipment was brought by the IT industry. This, according to them, was a discriminatory practice which should be removed," Swaraj said.

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