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Axe the tax, say DTH ops & MSOs

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MUMBAI: In the run up to Budget 2014, the DTH Operators Association and the MSO Alliance have joined hands with broadcasters to embark on an aggressive campaign (in the shape of a television promo or commercials)  to fight the heavy entertainment taxes levied on them by the various state governments.

The TV commercial which stars Roopal Tyagi (Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke) and Surbhi Jyoti (Qubool Hai) has been running across all channels.  It makes an appeal to TV viewers to log on to http://entertainmenttaxappeal.com to pledge against rising entertainment taxes. It says that on an average a viewer spends approximately Rs 3000 on cable TV and DTH recharges annually. Almost half of this goes directly into the government's kitty by way of taxes. Therefore, there is a need to put an end to it.

?We will present the appeals from the people to the government and hope that they take note of it,? says newly-appointed DTH Operators Association of India president RC Venkateish. He added that the advertisement was timed to coincide with the upcoming budget session. 

Entertainment tax is a state subject and hence, varies from state to state. In some, it is a fixed amount while in others the state exchequer carves it out as a percentage of the bill. 

 ?The state of Maharashtra charges Rs 45 as entrainment tax. This is ridiculously high,? says an industry professional and adds, ?High entertainment tax is one of the reasons why local operators don?t declare the number of viewers they have.?

The campaign is expected to run for a month in order to build a ground swell of public opinion against the entertainment tax levies.  It seems to have got the Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar's attention already. Speaking to PTI recently he assured industry that "the government is looking into the demands of the DTH operators and that the issue is with the Ministry of Finance."

"Industry has high hopes in the new Modi-led government. For several years, it has been appealing to the previous government to reduce the burden but to no avail.  High and multiple taxes have been crippling. Hopefully, the government will find a solution to this problems," says a media observer. 

It's now over to Mr Arun Jaitley. 

Click here to watch the commercial

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