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Budget 2014 is an opportunity for M&E to grow: Sudhanshu Vats

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The new government’s overall inclination towards development brings with it great optimism about the new Budget (2014) for me – not just as the head of an organisation but also as a representative of the Media and Entertainment industry. In fact, the Media & Entertainment industry experienced a whiff of fresh air with the new I&B Minister’s thoughts at the recent CII CEO roundtable. Eminent colleagues from across the industry raised key issues, which Shri Javadekar patiently heard and responded to – a sign of the new government’s strong preference for accountability and focus on governance.

The industry is poised for exponential growth during the term of this new government – almost doubling every year. It has the potential to provide almost six million direct jobs and also add to the economy as an aid to tourism.

After the extensive discussions and dialogue with colleagues and members of this bustling industry, I’ve penned some suggestions that can fuel the industry to reach never-before levels of growth.

Accountability

Accountability is the one thing that lacks processes in the Media & Entertainment space. A single-window clearance mechanism for permissions, especially for films and events, will motivate the industry to concentrate more on revenue streams rather than go around in circles. The wish list would remain only partially addressed without queries and licenses becoming more time-bound.

And while we expect an evolution in policies, keeping them clear and consistent with foresight at the back of the mind constantly, future action can be planned at the organisational level with greater certainty and generate opportunities for employment in large numbers, thus contributing significantly to the economy.

Pragmatic Policies

The media and entertainment industry is currently valued at USD 20 plus billion with significant growth potential. We’re poised to catapult to the next level with a few pragmatic policy reforms. Additionally, the M&E industry has the capacity to generate almost six million jobs directly and also further boost sectors like tourism.

More Spending Power

Rationalising Income Tax slabs is a key step towards taking the burden off the consumer’s shoulders. He will have more money to spend on his favourite means of recreation – entertainment.

Tax Abatement

And while we are on the topic of the Media & Entertainment industry and its role in the economy, one of the biggest losses I believe that it incurs is almost the one-third of revenue that it gives away in taxes and multiple licence fees over and above recurring commissions. These need to be re-evaluated and rationalised. In anticipation of GST implementation, entertainment and service taxes can be lowered to a more reasonable level.

Considering the premise of development that the new government has adopted, we expect a growth oriented budget, laying down a clear and consistent long-term roadmap. These steps that I have attempted to chalk out, will only allow the entire industry to collectively entertain India even more, even better!

(These are purely personal views of CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment chairman & Viacom18 Media group CEO Sudhanshu Vats and indiantelevision.com does not subscribe to these views.)

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