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Digital industry celebrates Union Budget 2018

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MUMBAI: The Union Budget for 2018 that was finally unveiled yesterday turned out to be a rather disappointing one for the industry at large but Digital India and digitisation got prime time attention. The budget focused on the middle class and rural population, guided by the mission to strengthen India’s agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure sectors.

With a view to promote digitisation, the government is set to make the necessary investment in robotics, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), digital manufacturing and big data analysis with the NITI Aayog to establish a national programme to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications, a revolutionary move for the digital industry. The ministry has decided to double its Digital India budget to around Rs 3073 crore. 

The Indian media industry seemed to have mix reactions about this year’s budget and while some were disappointed, many seemed cheerful about it and considered it to be a welcome budget. 

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Like the last few years, 2018 Union Budget too saw a dry spell for the entertainment industry with no big announcements. However, the government’s Digital India push by proposing to set up 5 lakh WiFi hotspots in the rural areas will pave the way for greater consumption of entertainment and news related content. It will also provide a boost to regional content, which is already expected to grow multifold in the coming years. Overall I would say the biggest positive highlight of this year's budget was focused on agriculture and healthcare. This initiative will definitely help the marginalised part of our country in the long run.

Dharma Productions CEO Apoorva Mehta

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It was an expected budget. I think that it was widely believed the government would focus on the rural economy and so it came to pass. There was not much expected for the media and entertainment industry and there was nothing specific announced. Corporate India would be slightly disappointed though as corporate taxation was not reduced except for small enterprises. Aviation and farming were the big winners.

Mukta Arts managing director Rahul Puri

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Budget announcements signal a stronger ecosystem for media and broadcast industry. In continuation with my pre-budget expectations, I am happy that FM has kept his promise by reducing corporate tax rate to 25 per cent.

BTVI COO Megha Tata

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While the budget largely focuses on the upliftment of agricultural sector, there is an equal focus on technology by introducing national programme in the area of AI & exploring ways for using the blockchain technology for digital transactions. The emphasis on sectors like healthcare, education & skill development is a good step by the govt. Reforms in the education sector encourage more & more private institutions to expand or modernise to give students a more global perspective as part of their learning process, which also helps in tackling brain drain. Overall, the budget seems like a typical socialist one, without much to take-away for the common-man.

Havas Media Group CEO India and South Asia Anita Nayyar

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I’m glad to see that the budget for digital India has doubled and also the fact that AI and Blockchain technologies will be used by the government. But I’m disappointed that government is looking to put an end to cryptocurrencies. Globally cryptocurrencies is a phenomenon which points towards the future of currencies and maybe a more inclusive view was needed.

WATConsult founder and CEO Rajiv Dingra 

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The budget has focused on the right areas, particularly the rural and agricultural sector, which is definitely going to spur rural demand in the coming months and years. The rural economy needed a boost. I also like the fact that the Finance Minister has focused on ease of living rather than just ease of doing business and has introduced healthcare benefits which will benefit nearly 50 crore Indians. It is a landmark step. The emphasis on digital, particularly higher-end digital areas like artificial intelligence and usage of blockchain shows that the government is committed to providing a further digital thrust. The steps being taken, like provision of free WiFi and other forms of internet to all parts of the country will be extremely beneficial in the long run for the digital sector. It will help agencies like ours who are partnering clients for digital transformation.

The introduction of the long term capital gains tax on equities will soon be digested by the industry I’m sure, but in some ways, I see a missed opportunity because the simplification of GST processes for the services sector would have gone a long way to help the advertising industry. The advertising industry doesn’t mind paying the taxes but abhors non-productive, complex procedures including filing of hundreds of returns every year. Overall I think the right sectors have got the incentives and therefore it should be good for the country.  If it is good for the country, it will be good for the economy and once the economy grows, the advertising sector will benefit from it.

Dentsu Aegis Network chairman and CEO South Asia Ashish Bhasin

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The ‘Digital India’ program has received a major boost with double the allocation of  Rs. 3073 Crore for the coming year. Budget 2018 has proposed the set-up of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas thereby providing broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens. Much to the delight of digital media players, this move will open extended avenues for them and give a strong push to regional and mainstream digital content in these markets. With extensive broadband penetration, affordable data prices and smartphones, the vision for digital India could well come to fruition in the coming years. Lastly, the estimated over 7% growth for the next fiscal creates a positive sentiment for India's economic and financial ecosystem.

Worldwide Media CEO Deepak Lamba  

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In the Union Budget 2018, there has been a significant allocation towards rural development. The proposal of setting up 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas will give impetus to media penetration in Tier 3 and Tier 4 markets. Media players are increasingly looking at Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 markets since regional content has begun to drive media growth. So, the infrastructure push in these regions will accelerate media consumption and inadvertently help the advertisers and the advertising business on the whole. I would certainly say it is a good budget, and we will gradually witness the positive results unfold in the future.

TV18 president- revenue & Forbes India CEO Joy Chakraborthy

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Government’s focus on rural and agriculture development, digitisation and digital education is going be a big demand booster for our sector. The rural demand for FMCG, beverages, automobiles, education and financial products are going to increase, this would increase advertising budgets of our clients from FMCG, education, financial services sectors. Government’s focus on digitisation brings in lots of rich data for us to better targeting for our customers. This focus would make India data rich country and the targeting and conversions on digital marketing front would be much easier and more accurate.

Vertoz fand CEO Ashish Shah

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FM Jaitley’s budget this year focuses on investments to be placed in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things with the NITI Aayog establishing a national program to direct efforts in artificial intelligence. The government has committed itself to the development of technology along with concentrating on AI and its applications which is a revolutionary move for the digital industry. Initiatives on infrastructure growth and education expansion have been looked at from a digital perspective, which reflects the significance of the ‘Blackboard to digital board’ movement. Decisions benefiting rural citizens–such as 5 lakh WiFi spots, give it a further impetus. Another game changer mentioned in this budget was the government’s will to proactively explore the use of blockchain technology. The allocation of digital India has been doubled which indicates the government’s emphasis on digital, heralding a stronger digital economy. I believe this was a great budget for the digital ecosystem.

DAN Performance Group CEO Vivek Bhargava

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The much-awaited announcement of Union Budget prompted a gust of anticipation & higher expectations. While the Finance Minister touts the Union Budget as primarily focused on the agricultural sector, it sure reeks of reforms beneficial for numerous other sectors as well.

The government has always encouraged the digital sector to flourish & the budget rightfully justifies their farsighted approach. This year the allocation to Digital India Scheme has been doubled to Rs 3073 crore which is a worthwhile move for the industry as a whole. Not only that, with the onset of fast-paced technology and AI shaping the new segment of digital World, NITI Aayog will establish a national programme for it. This is a clap-worthy reform which will help organisations diversifying with AI to have a wider scope with vast awareness among everyone.  For a higher internet penetration, 5 Lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be set up in rural areas, which again is beneficial for the rural dwellers. The need to eliminate cryptocurrencies which are funding illegitimate transactions was also mentioned. The government has proposed to revamp the system of sanctioning loans to SMEs. As per the budget reforms now the information will be linked with GSTN & will be fetched from the same. This comes across as a welcome move as not only will it streamline the process but will enable people to get accustomed to the digital ingress. Corporate companies with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore will also be highly benefitted from the budget as the corporate tax has been further reduced to 25 per cent.

As per my opinion, the Union Budget has surely set a benchmark & the year looks promising with excellent reforms leading to growth & development of the economy.”

iCubesWire CEO and founder Sahil Chopra

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This is an excellent budget from the digital perspective. As expected, the government has doubled its allocation to digital India initiative at Rs 3073 crore. This will grow the entire digital economy and the government has shown that this is going to be focus area. Its commitment to exploring blockchain and AI only ratifies its vision for digital India. The other game changer is enhancing rural regions with 5 lakh Wifi hotspots. This would lead to higher adoption, skills upgrade and rural citizens embracing digital quickly. This budget gives me hope that we are on our way to becoming a digital-led economy.

Tonic Worldwide founder and CEO Chetan Asher

Also Read :

Industry holds bright outlook for budget 2018

Union Budget 2018: Industry expects govt to favour consumption

Is India ready for the impact of AI on marketing?

A year after demonetisation: E-payment services emerged winners 

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