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STB duties waived, duty on convergence products cut to 5%

NEW DELHI: In the 2008-09 budget, the Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has no major giveaway to the media and entertainment sector except in the areas of convergence and digitalisation.

 

The budget has waived duties on the set-top boxes, giving a boost to the cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH) and IPTV operators. Chidambaram has also reduced duty on convergence products from 10 per cent to 5 per cent.

Presenting the budget, Chidambaram said specific parts of STBs and specified raw materials for use in IT and electronic hardware industry have been fully exempted from customs duty.

The minister also announced that to establish parity between devices used in the information/communication sector and the entertainment sector, he was reducing the customs duty on convergence products by half.

While the announcement partly meets the demand by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation relating to STBs, it has failed to meet the long-standing demands of the film industry articulated through various organisations including Ficci and representations to the Information and Broadcasting ministry.

Noting that India‘s music, literature, dance, art, cuisine and especially films are attracting huge interest around the world, Chidambaram announced a provision of Rs 750 million to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to design and implement a programme to project these in a sophisticated and subtle manner. He described this as the ‘soft power‘ of India.

In a move that may help the printing and newspaper industry, Chidambaram announced reduction of the excise duty from 12 to 8 per cent on "paper, paper board and articles made therefrom manufactured out of non-conventional raw materials by units not having an attached bamboo/wood pulp making plant." There would be a further reduction on clearances up to 3,500 tonnes from 8 per cent to nil. Furthermore, the excise duty on certain varieties of writing, printing and packing paper will be reduced from 12 per cent to 8 per cent.

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