Cable TV

State governments get active on cable tax collection

MUMBAI: Cable operators have plenty to be concerned about.

First, the introduction of the Conditional Access System Bill continues to hang fire. Now, state governments like Gujarat and Maharashtra are getting in on the act of launching drives to count cable headnds to ensure that cable ops do not evade tax through under declared connectivity. In Surat, out of the over 43,887 houses surveyed, 27,517 homes have cable connections.

A Times of India report indiactes that if these initial figures are any indication, the actual number of connections could be in the region of 300,000. However only 132,000 connections have been registered and so the move could more than double the revenue for the government. This holds true for the rural areas of the state as well, says the report.

The survey which commenced earlier this month, involves over 200 enumerators. Additional collector J B Vora has been quoted as saying that over Rs two million have been received by the district collectorate as entertainment tax so far this month following the drive and the number of registered connections has increased by over 19,000, For each connection, an operator has to pay six rupees as tax every month to the entertainment department.

In Maharashtra, the state government has begun the process to auction rights for collecting entertainment tax on cable television. According to a report from the India Abroad News Service, the government has published the draft rules on auctioning the rights to collect entertainment tax on cable television networks in the latest issue of its gazette. Conservative estimates indicate that while there are two million cable subscribers in Mumbai alone, operators have declared only about 400,000.

In Kolkata meanwhile, the government has deployed unemployed youth to count cable headends. For each count made, the youth is paid one rupee.

The success of these exedercises is expected to benefit the broadcast fraternity who will be able to negotiate better connectivity declarations for their channels from the cable ops.

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