Entertainment sector seeks tax sops

NEW DELHI: The entertainment industry, comprising various segments, today collectively made a representation to the finance ministry seeking tax sops, including exemption from service tax for film distribution.

The industry's pre-budget memorandum was given at a meeting with the revenue secretary today. The industry was led by joint secretary (broadcasting) in the information and broadcasting ministry, the nodal ministry for the entertainment industry.

Those who participated in today's meeting included representatives from Film Federation of India, Film Producers Guild of India, Indian Music Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The delegation put forth the following key issues for consideration of the finance ministry in the forthcoming Union Budget.

The representatives from the music industry requested for a more pragmatic approach to tackle the menace of piracy from the ministry of finance. Taking the example of the steps taken by the Central Government to curb the gray market for gold and cellular phones (through a more rational levy structure), representatives of the music industry suggested lower rates of tax for music cassettes and CD's under VAT regime. In the absence of this, the industry fears that the price difference between the legitimate product and the pirated product will become substantial, thus fuelling piracy even more.

The broadcast sector has demanded that duties, including the countervailing duties, be rationalized, so that the difference between the cost of import and production could be removed. The industry feels that this could help the local industry and would help in the digitization of the industry. Another request of the sector is that the duty structure on the cable and broadcasting should be rationalized and lowered to match those levied on telecom equipment.

The issue of countervailing duty in respect of raw stock was the main point raised by the representative in the Film Federation of India and the Film Producers Guild of India.

The delegation drew the attention of the finance ministry officials to the service tax levied on distribution business, contending that film distribution is not a service sector activity and, therefore, should not be liable for service tax.

The delegation has sought exemption of export duty on the equipment needed for providing education in the field of film and television.

It was also highlighted that the film industry should get similar treatment as the tea and coffee industry. A specific request was concessions similar to Section 33 AD of the Income Tax Act.

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