IBF calls for broadcast, print media equality in India’s new tax regime | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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The Indian Broadcast Foundation (IBF) is urging the Government to classify television as an item of mass consumption with a 5% tax cap, alongside print media, under the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) system.
Indian Broadcasting Foundation logoIndian businesses in print, broadcast and electronic media have taken a hit due to the country’s demonetisation of high value currency notes in November 2016, said the broadcasting industry body.

“It is important that Government recognises TV services which has evolved over the years as a product/service of mass consumption to be classified and categorised under the item of mass consumption having a GST rate of 5% so that it becomes affordable to masses. Not only does it provide infotainment, entertainment and influence public opinion but unlike the other mediums is also not constricted by level of literacy and is education agnostic,” said IBF president Punit Goenka, Indian Broadcasting Foundation.

“Going by the number of TV households, that stands at currently 120 million, we submit to the Government that broadcast services, ie TV and radio, must be treated at par with the print in the new GST regime. This submission is based entirely on the fact that TV services have become integral part of everyday life to the vast majority in the country and the general economic downturn globally has impacted the sector extensively,” he added.

The IBF represents the broadcasters of more than 400 channels in India, accounting for 90% of the country’s viewers. At the end of December 2016 there were 899 channels in India, 399 of which are news and current affairs channels, according to Ministry of Information & Broadcasting figures.

The industry body claims the ‘advertising pie’ has shrunk following demonetisation and, along with this, the rising costs of infrastructure and content are pushing some broadcasters out of business.

“Compounding the woes is the DAVP [Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity] advertisements that all broadcasters have to mandatorily carry on their networks, the rates for which has not been revised since 2010 thereby consuming massive inventories. The rock-bottom rates are not at all in keeping with the existing market rates and allows little flexibility for manoeuvrability in carry out businesses and is heavily subsidised by the broadcasters,” says Rohit Gupta, president, Network Sales and International Business, Sony Pictures Networks.

A Mohan, president (Legal & Regulatory), Zee Entertainment Enterprises stressed: “We urge the Government to free the media, print, television and radio from the obsolete taxation squeezes and attacks on revenue streams, as the vitality of this industry is essential to protect the fibre of the country, both socially and economically”.

The IBF stressed that it was in the Government’s best interest to have “an exuberant and effusive media” which should fall “under the domain of reasonable fiscal and labour policies” come Budget 2017.