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Budget '17: Media segments seek succour, digital direction from govt

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Despite government attempting to allay many fears of the various sectors of the Indian industry, the uncertainty prevailing after demonetisation continues and everybody is looking for the Union Budget 2017 to provide some indications, if not clear-cut answers, on various issues, including a high tax regime, incentivising digital uptake and, of course, the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Reliance Broadcast Networks Ltd (RBNL) feels as most radio broadcast players had been advocating for reduction in tax and custom duty on capital equipment, especially given the proposed launch of new frequencies, their expectation this year too remains the same as also the demand for granting infrastructure status to the broadcast industry.

“Reduction in service tax would be a boon for the media and entertainment industry as a whole,” said Reliance Broadcast Network Limited COO Ashwin Padmanabhan.

"The media and advertising industry in India is one of the fastest growing in the world. With the Union Budget 2017 expectation will rise for 'Push for Digital India' as India ranks second globally with 30 per cent Internet penetration, still to catch up with China (50 per cent) and USA (87 per cent). The implementation of GST is expected to benefit the industry bringing rationalisation of taxation policy by making the taxation process simple, transparent and easy to pay,”  Interspace Solutions CEO Praveen Vadhera.

Shop CJ COO Dhruva Chandrie, while taking the bigger picture in account, opined if measures are taken to positively impact the overall consumer sentiment and propel their spending trends, it would definitely be good for the Indian economy. “While the government has set a goal of creating around 400 million jobs by 2020, one million people are entering the job market each year. In the given scenario, the government’s quick implementation of programs to create new jobs will give our economy the much needed boost,” he said.

According to Mukta Arts MD Rahul Puri, the exhibition industry's biggest hope for the Budget revolved around a formal announcement on the implementation of GST, which is not going to happen till July, but more details could emerge during the Budget speech. “Beside this, we hope that the government would continue to rationalise the corporate tax regime, which would be beneficial for the industry as a whole,” he added.

Sphereorigins CMD Sunjoy Waddhwa felt that as times were changing for the media and entertainment industry, costs too are going up all round --- from remunerations of artistes to costs of production of good programming. “However, I think GST would not have a lot of impact on our industry per se as long as the percentage is not too high," he added.

Echoing similar sentiments on rising cost of doing business, Pixel Pictures CEO Prashanti Malisetti said the entertainment industry players were under “heavy burden of multiple taxation and levies” such as license fee, service tax, VAT, etc. Buying props, for instance, currently attract high rates of VAT, depending on the State in question, she explained, adding, “In an ideal world, new technology adaptation should be viewed under a different category and new tax benefits should be applicable despite the age of the production house...(as) current import duties are high and can be a hindrance to smaller companies to make the jump.”

While highlighting new format of shows in the non-fiction and game show category and arrival of VoD services have led to a host of new opportunities for production companies in the television industry, Malisetti also felt that the entertainment industry was particularly keen to get some clarification on GST.

Demonetisation and, at times, the present BJP-led government’s unorthodox stand on various policies have been a common theme and, therefore, expectations from various quarters of the media and entertainment industry too have revolved around hoping to get clarifications from the government. Fractal Ink Design Studio CEO, co-founder and CCO Tanay Kumar highlighted that with demonetization “adding friction to our daily routines”, it would be interesting to witness steps taken towards “improving parallel transaction mechanisms”.

Shop CJ Dhruva Chandrie, while taking the bigger picture in account, opined if measures are taken to positively impact the overall consumer sentiment and propel their spending trends, it would definitely be good for the Indian economy. “While the government has set a goal of creating around 400 million jobs by 2020, one million people are entering the job market each year. In the given scenario, the government’s quick implementation of programs to create new jobs will give our economy the much needed boost,” he said.

According to Mukta Arts MD Rahul Puri, the exhibition industry's biggest hope for the Budget revolved around a formal announcement on the implementation of GST, which is not going to happen till July, but more details could emerge during the Budget speech. “Beside this, we hope that the government would continue to rationalise the corporate tax regime, which would be beneficial for the industry as a whole,” he added.

Sphereorigins CMD Sunjoy Waddhwa felt that as times were changing for the media and entertainment industry, costs too are going up all round --- from remunerations of artistes to costs of production of good programming. “However, I think GST would not have a lot of impact on our industry per se as long as the percentage is not too high," he added.

Echoing similar sentiments on rising cost of doing business, Pixel Pictures CEO Prashanti Malisetti said the entertainment industry players were under “heavy burden of multiple taxation and levies” such as license fee, service tax, VAT, etc. Buying props, for instance, currently attract high rates of VAT, depending on the State in question, she explained, adding, “In an ideal world, new technology adaptation should be viewed under a different category and new tax benefits should be applicable despite the age of the production house...(as) current import duties are high and can be a hindrance to smaller companies to make the jump.”

While highlighting new format of shows in the non-fiction and game show category and arrival of VoD services have led to a host of new opportunities for production companies in the television industry, Malisetti also felt that the entertainment industry was particularly keen to get some clarification on GST.

Demonetisation and, at times, the present BJP-led government’s unorthodox stand on various policies have been a common theme and, therefore, expectations from various quarters of the media and entertainment industry too have revolved around hoping to get clarifications from the government. Fractal Ink Design Studio CEO, co-founder and CCO Tanay Kumar highlighted that with demonetization “adding friction to our daily routines”, it would be interesting to witness steps taken towards “improving parallel transaction mechanisms”.

“As we see a lot of movement in the start-up world to take on the big pie of the digital world, we hope the Budget 2017 has some easing-down policies on regulatory aspects that will help them concentrate better on problem solving than running after compliance and taxation issues. With unique and easy payment methods like UPI and formation of payment banks, spending patterns and consumer behaviour is going to see a huge shift from being conservative to being more liberal and trusting. We, as a digital experience design agency, expect the Budget to be hugely in favour of creating digitally smart and enabled India in the coming times," Kumar explained.

TalentNext.com CEO Shekhar Purohit also felt that this year’s Budget could prove to be critical for the media and entertainment industry as major challenges remain with dual taxation (service tax and VAT), which unduly increases the cost of doing business.

Pointing out that the media and entertainment industry continues to be a sunrise sector for India, Purohit said, “The implementation, application, and impact of GST on our industry must be addressed immediately and this year's Budget should also support digitization to the fullest to foster digital empowerment."

Also Read:

Budget 2017 Wish-list: MSOs demand industry status, rationalisation of entertainment & services taxes

Broadcasters bat for parity with print medium under GST

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