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Top M&E industry honchos see no major benefit from Budget '17

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MUMBAI: With the Union Budget’s focus on rural and infrastructure sectors, the media and entertainment (M&E) industry seems to be disappointed as the budget does not offer much. Though the sector is hoping to get some benefit through the digital push mentioned in the budget, expectations were high as the budget overlooked the sector even in the previous two budgets.

No clarity on foreign direct investment (FDI) policy, goods and services tax (GST), no further reduction in the service tax, no direct benefit for the digital ecosystem, MSOs, telecom, and many such misses has upset the M&E industry at large.

Impetus on digital payments and transactions will eventually help the OTTs/VoDs platforms subscription model. The government's move to abolish Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) is believed to make it largely easier for foreign investors to invest in Indian companies.

Reliance Broadcast Network Limited

Reliance Broadcast Network (RBNL) CEO Tarun Katial said, “Budget 2017 is Neutral for the M&E sector although the consumption centric budget will put more money in the pocket of the common man and hence help the advertising and broadcast industries. Radio broadcast industry has requested specific policy measures like five per cent GST rate, reduction in custom duty for capex, etc and we look forward to the announcements when the GST rates are announced.”

Mukta Arts 

Mukta Arts MD Rahul Puri asserted, “The Union Budget this year has focused more on uplifting some of India’s poorest sections of society. While this year again the media and entertainment sector has been overlooked, however some announcements will definitely help our industry in many ways. Setting up the cyber security teams will help fight piracy, similarly, the government’s push towards Internet penetration in rural markets will help increase content consumption and increase the audience base. Further the abolishment of FIPB will make it easier for foreign investors to invest in Indian companies.”

Worldwide Media 

Worldwide Media CEO Deepak Lamba added, ‘’The Union Budget 2017 announced today, doesn’t include much on the  M&E sector, however there are some points that will have a positive impact on our industry. The budget reinforced India's huge shift towards digitization especially with the proposed deployment of high optic cables to increase internet penetration in rural India. This is a big positive for content creators like us, as it will boost the digital content consumption across online and mobile platforms. Further impetus on digital payments and transactions will eventually help the subscription model. Also, the government's move to abolish FIPB to make the inflow of FDI smoother and to consider liberalization of the FDI policy will have a positive impact for players across sectors in the long run.”

KSS Limited (K Sera Sera)

KSS Limited group CEO and KSS Digital Cinema CEO Rahul Kanani added, "The Union Budget 2017 introduces the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board which is a positive step leading to inducing more foreign studios investment in India. More investments coupled with technological upgradation will certainly be a boon for the Indian film industry. Further, with the digital transactions getting a boost the industry especially single screen businesses which have suffered hugely because of the recent demonetization will help get a push."

Pixel Pictures 

Pixel Pictures CEO Prashanti Mallisetti said, "The budget on the onset looks quite positive and is in-line with the recent reforms. Though there are no major takeaways for any industry in particular that can affect a trajectory movement - the curb on cash transactions of 3 Lakhs is the one that is going to be a predominant factor in the demonetization short term scenario. More clarity in GST would have been great, but I guess we have to wait for that a little longer.”

Dome Entertainment

Dome Entertainment’s Mazhar Nadiadwala added, “GST would be implemented on the entertainment and events industry, and this would unify the indirect tax administration in India and help the country in two ways. Firstly, it will simplify and make it easy for the consumers to understand. Secondly, it will ease doing business in India. Also, application of GST will result into growth of the country and there will be transparency in the transactions. Under GST, service tax or state tax will be available as a credit which will reduce overall costs and eliminate dual levies of service tax and VAT on transactions. However, every coin has two sides, at one end where we have advantages of GST, on the other end certain businesses will face initial challenges, especially the ones who use traditional methods for transactions."

ActorsApply.com 

An ActorsApply.com spokesperson said, "Government's proposed reduction in the income tax for smaller organisations will add to the agenda of Startup India thereby expanding the scope for aspiring start ups. Also, the plan to provide a seven-year tax relief will help startups to overcome the losses incurred post demonetisation. The increase in time frame from 5 to 7 years for profit linked deductions was a much needed move specially for emerging start ups. The budget also levelled India’s huge shift towards digitization supporting it with the announcement of use of optic fibre cables for high-speed broadband connectivity in rural areas. This will mean increased Internet penetration through mobile and online mediums thereby boosting the start up sector overall."

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