M&E industry appreciate film, Digital India-focussed interim budget 2019

Many are optimistic about the aim to digitally connect 1 lakh villages.

MUMBAI: The government today announced the interim budget for 2019 in the parliament and has been gaining a lot of praise from the people for its pro-poor and pro-middle class approach. However, the media and entertainment section received little attention this time. Apart from a slight reference to anti-piracy laws and single-window clearance for ease of shooting films, the budget speech refrained from mentioning the industry.

However, there is still positivity in the media sector regarding the budget, especially from the entertainment fraternity. Producers Guild of India president Siddharth Roy Kapur said, “We are delighted that the immense contribution of Indian cinema towards employment generation in the country has been acknowledged and applauded in Parliament during the presentation of the Union Budget. The announcement of a single-window clearance mechanism for Indian filmmakers filming within India is a significant step and has the potential to play a huge role in boosting tourism in the country. The amendments in the anti-camcording provisions will support the industry’s growth by curtailing illegal recordings of films in cinema halls and will go a long way towards reducing piracy.”

Film producer Anand Pandit lauded the interim budget saying, “As a member of the film industry and a producer, I believe that the single window clearance that is being given by the government in this budget to filmmakers is an extremely welcome move. It will make the ease of getting shooting permissions very accessible and a lot less time will be spent in getting the same. I believe this budget looks at filmmakers and the industry as a major force in the country and I congratulate Shri Modiji for his vision in understanding our problems and finding a solution for us. By streamlining the process, producers like me will be able to make films far easier and in shorter amount of time."

Harkness Screens senior vice president sales and marketing – Asia Preetham Daniel reflected the same sentiments saying, “In relation to entertainment industry, single window clearance for filmmakers is a good move as it will remove the hurdles in content generation.  Anti-piracy initiatives by the government is a big step forward. Moving from smart cities, digital villages will pave way for better penetration of content in all formats. India has an average screen density of 1 screen per population of 155000. Such positive measures in fiscal budget for entertainment industry coming along with GST rates rationalisation for film exhibition sector will certainly add steam and bring impetus to the growth pace of Indian Entertainment Industry. We are now well positioned to see the industry flourishing.”

BookMyShow appreciated the budget’s recognition of India’s startup ecosystem’s contribution to the economy and the creation of a Digital India in Vision 2030. It also said, “It is probably for the first time in several years that the entertainment industry has been hailed as a force of employment generation. We whole-heartedly support the government’s move to curb piracy through the introduction of the anti-camcording provision in the Cinematography Act. With these measures, we expect the regulatory framework of the entertainment industry to significantly change for the better.”

The statement further added, “While the Finance Minister has offered incentives to the film industry, it is also worth recognising the huge scope that live entertainment offers, for employment and growth of the Indian economy. We hope that the GST Council along with the government can find solutions to streamline the existing tax structures for this sector as well and bring it below the current rate of 28 per cent, to enable a well-rounded ecosystem.”

MX Player CEO Karan Bedi said, “The Union Budget’s provision for a single clearance window for Indian filmmakers would come as a welcome and positive step to film producers and movie studios across the country. The amendments in the Anti-Camcording provisions would also complement the industry’s efforts to snub illegal movie recordings in theatres and encourage the consumption of original content.” 

Viacom18 group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats said, “The Hon’ble FM Shri Piyush Goyal has provided a tremendous fillip to the Indian entertainment industry with the provision of single window clearance for films, in the Union Budget 2019. Such policy provisions that seek to enhance ease of doing business will help the ~Rs 156 billion industry grow at a faster clip. I also welcome the move to include anti-camcording provisions as part of the Cinematography Act. This will ensure that in-theatre pirated recordings now become a penal offence and will act as a strong deterrent to piracy.”

Apart from that, digital agencies are also very positive about the interim budget 2019. The emphasis on Digital India, including conversion of one lakh villages into digital over next five years, by the government in its budget speech has got the hopes high for them.

Ethinos Digital Marketing MD Siddharth Hegde said, “This is a positive budget from digital perspective and clearly the government is determined not only on delivering on its current promises but also delivering on its promise of a complete digital revolution in India. The 10 point agenda for 2030 and the set up of digital villages are going to drive digital inclusion. The low data costs are going to drive more for the rural population online and we are likely to see an explosion in vernacular content. This is also likely to give marketers an option to have a more measurable pipe to the rural masses. This budget is a great start and we welcome the move by the government."

Vertoz founder and chairman Hiren Shah mentioned, “The interim budget has laid out a clear vision for the country’s development in the coming decade, and Digital India plays an important role with the government stressing on the development of digital infrastructure and digital economy. Coupled with the government’s vision of converting one lakh villages into digital villages, we will see a deeper penetration of the internet not only in tier II and III markets but also in rural areas. Currently, we have only scratched the surface and the support from the government can help the industry reach its full potential with respect to market penetration.”

He added, “This will broaden the horizon for digital advertising, and consequently for programmatic advertising, in these markets, thus providing an opportunity to brands and marketers to cater to the customer needs with bespoke products and services.”

Speaking on the artificial intelligence program that the government has introduced with the budget, Hiren shared, “We are also happy to see artificial intelligence (AI) as a focal part of the budget for Digital India. This support will ensure that AI, supported by big data, will enable the industry to successfully analyse consumer patterns with minimized human intervention. This also brings in the benefits of automation such as more efficiency and faster processing of data for advertising, thus allowing brands to get sales faster and within an effective timeline.”

White Rivers Media co-founder and CEO Shrenik Gandhi contended, “The interim budget, as expected was short yet powerful. A lakh digital villages will not only strengthen the bottom of the pyramid but also empower them with the digital universe. Rebate in tax slabs is a great move for not only the middle class but also young self-made professionals. Not many budgets empower this section of voters and the same is an applaud-worthy move.”

TRA CEO N Chandramouli shared an interesting insight into how easing of loans for MSME sector, in turn, will benefit the advertising market. He said, “The 2 per cent interest subvention for MSME is definitely a great thought along with the easing of loans through PSB loans under 59 minutes scheme. Together they will give a boost to the industry which contributes to 69 per cent employment in the country.  This will also boost the adjunct services industry that caters to MSME sectors like advertising, market research, training and public relations which in turn will also have a positive cascade on the services sector.”

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