‘Budget 2015’ is a budget of aspirations: News broadcasters


MUMBAI: A government with absolute majority backed by historical mandate is certain to garner huge aspirations. And now it’s time to meet the expectations that National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been building in every Indian since the time the Narendra Modi led BJP started campaigning for 2014 Lok Sabha elections. As 28 February spells out major economical initiatives, Indiantelevision.com asked the news broadcasters fraternity about their expectations from Arun Jaitley and his ministry.

Talking about the aspirations from budget 2015, NDTV CEO Vikram Chandra told Indiantelevision.com, “We don’t have any specific set of aspirations. We are hoping for action to sort out the distribution business model and increase in subscriptions but that isn’t directly linked to the budget of course.”

The finance ministry has often earned praise from experts and economists for growth oriented thoughts. Some of the thoughts were implemented of which the defense sector is one. But the media fraternity has not been offered anything more than encouraging word.

Times Group CEO M K Anand feels that the budget should build confidence and not dampen the positivity. “Media business has a direct positive correlation with the economy. What’s good for the economy will be great for advertising. This budget is probably the most awaited in Indian history. This is the single biggest optical event that will signal to the electorate and investors that this government will change things. My expectation is simply that the budget should maintain the confidence built on it and not dampen the positivity around India. And all indications are that we won’t be disappointed. I am looking forward to a great next year,” he said.

Jaitley, who is also heading the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, is expected to understand issues plaguing the media industry. In recent past the Minister commented against the ad cap and favoured increase in FDI, which increased the level of aspirations.

News Nation network CEO R K Arora feels that it’s high time for the government to deliver as the media industry has not been paid attention to in recent times. “With budget comes many expectations and we wish a lot of things, sometimes they are fulfilled and sometimes we are disappointed. This year the prime expectations from budget would be increase in FDI. All the channels need more revenue for expansion and 26 per cent of foreign investment is certainly not enough so if it should be increased to 49 per cent to ensure proper development of news channels. Moreover, we also pay a hefty 12.36 per cent service tax through which government earns a lot of revenue. I would be glad if it is reduced to 10 per cent,” Arora opined.

India has a formidable team taking care of finance and commercial affairs with Jaitley, Jayanth Sinha and Nirmala Sitharaman in it. The team’s credibility cannot be questioned in terms of education or understanding of the subject that they are dealing with. The trio and the bureaucrats working under them have often been recognised as the best team in the Modi government. One of the biggest decisions they took was the inception of Neeti Ayog and the choice of its leaders. 

News Broadcasters Association honorary treasurer and News24 chairperson cum managing director Anurradha Prasad feels a business friendly atmosphere should be developed where one does not have to go through numerous layers of officiating. “Firstly, economy should be in the growing mode and once we have good economic growth, every sector will improve. Secondly, the structure of business in India should be rationalised. There are too many layers now, which can be transmitted into a single window. Thirdly, we would like the government to push the retail sector, as news channels are directly dependent on the retail sector. Additionally, our constant demand has been an increase in FDI to at least 49 per cent in News and Radio.”

Focus News managing director Sailesh Kumar asserted, “The industry is waiting for an announcement in FDI in news. There are not many investors ready to invest in this industry, which is in desperate need of growth and that cannot happen without money. Distribution stream is an issue all over and it needs to be sorted out. Moreover, service tax has to be rationalized as we use numerous equipments and pay tax for all separately. The percentile of tax varies from place to place, which is total injustice.”

NewsX Editor–At –Large (Roving Editor) Athar Khan expects the FM to announce a budget that is conducive for the growth of the economy. He said, “We are looking forward to a possible increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in media houses and conglomerates. FDI in news and the digital space has been promised, mulled and discussed by various Governments over the years however, never delivered.  An increase in the FDI ceiling will potentially bring in large investments in the sector, which in turn will benefit not just the companies but also has the potential to boost salary structures in the industry bringing them at par with international standards. Concessions in service tax for media houses is another aspect we can look forward to.  The possibility of an earlier roll out of the GST (GOODS & SERVICES TAX) by this Government is also something that we are hoping for. A streamlined tax structure will benefit the industry immensely. The Government can also look into giving the broadcasting sector infrastructure status on the lines of the telecom sector. A boost for the manufacturing sector will be welcome too as television sets, set top boxes and other products related to the media and entertainment industry can also indirectly help the industry’s augmentation. We can also expect some more channels to be launched as the I&B minister has already shown interest in a Government owned channel as proposed by the previous Government. If the growth is robust, as promised by the Modi Government then the advertising budgets of big corporates would also see an increase which will enhance the ad revenues for the channels which is the sole source of revenue for the broadcasting industry.”

The media industry awaits set rejuvenating declarations from the finance ministry. It now remains to be seen if Jaitley and team meet expectations and successfully fulfill their aspirations.

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