Zee Turner: Budget should stop double taxation from broadcasters


NEW DELHI: Broadcasters have expressed the hope that the government will ease the taxation structure for the initial three to five years and introduces policies that promote domestic manufacturing of set top boxes because the high import duty and taxes like octroi and other taxes were acting as a bottleneck in smooth transition to digitalisation.

Zee Turner CEO Arun Poddar told today that irrational rates were dissuading Indian entrepreneurs from investing in the production of STBs. He hoped the government would introduce policies that promote domestic manufacturing of STBs.

Listing his expectations from Union Budget 2007-08 being presented on 28 February, Poddar appealed for doing away with double taxation from broadcasters. He said since media was part of the entertainment as well as a service industry, broadcasters were charged both entertainment tax and service tax.


He said the entertainment industry was in the transition mode from analogue to digital and it was extremely imperative for the government to take steps that not only accelerate the process but also make this industry an interesting and appealing investment proposition for Indian manufacturers.

Service tax remained one of the crucial and unresolved issues in the entertainment industry and should be sorted out in the forthcoming Union budget. While service tax is levied on the electronic media, the print media is exempted from any such taxation. This is despite the fact that both print and electronic fall under media and entertainment industry. There was therefore need to create a level playing field for all, and take measures to bring electronic at par with print media.


"The 400,000 exemption limit from service tax has led to 'appalling confusion and dissatisfaction'. While the last mile cable operators are able to take undue advantage of this exemption limit, multi system operators (MSOs) and broadcasters were being penalized," Poddar said. The last mile cable operators conveniently avoid passing the service tax to MSOs by under declaring their subscriber base by almost 80 to 85 per cent. MSOs and broadcasters paid service tax but could not recover this from the last mile operators.

He expressed the hope that the government would bring about clarity on how service tax should be charged or should waive the exemption limit completely.

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