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Budget 2017: M&E industry sees gains from buoyancy in the economy

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 & Chairman, Media and Entertainment Committee, CII:

“Much had been speculated about the economic slowdown post demonetisation. With this Budget, the Government has taken important steps to boost the economy in a structured manner, building on the promise of transparent growth. Steps to liberalise the FDI regime further coupled with the abolishment of FIPB and tax reforms for MSMEs are bound to have impact in the foreseeable future. This Budget has seen some positive solutions to tackle poverty in our country, including one of the highest allocation of funds to MNREGA and rationalisation of rate for the lower personal tax slabs. I am particularly enthused by the strong reforms push for digitisation and look forward to digital transactions increasing in the country. This also augurs well for digital consumption of video content. The move to cap political donations in cash at Rs 2,000 and all cash transactions at 300,000 are also much-needed, bold steps that are in line with the Government’s commitment to uprooting corruption. With Swachh Bharat being close to our hearts, the Budget has built further on this theme in a welcome move. I’ve said this before and will say it again: as the M&E sector, we have a lot to gain from buoyancy in the economy at the aggregate level and I believe this Budget has delivered on that front.” 

MK Anand, MD & CEO, Times Network:

“After the recent massive policy implementation of demonetisation, my expectation was of some radical reforms. I was a bit disappointed on that count. However, enhanced provision for MNREGA and allocations for Rural, Agriculture and allied sector and a clear push for the affordable housing sectors are the silver linings. Agriculture and real estate are the most important employment generating sectors in India. This should improve the rural situation which is still recovering from demonetisation. Hopefully that will have a ripple effect on spending and the larger economy.” 

Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (on his Twitter handle):

“#Budget2017 speaks a lot about the Government’s positive & committed approach towards creating a stronger & balanced economy. Being directionally right & focused on spending in growth centric areas, it clearly reassures the fact that #Remonetisation is in!” 

Deepak Lamba, CEO, Worldwide Media:

“The Union Budget 2017 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 digitisation, 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 liberalisation of the FDI policy will have a positive impact for players across sectors in the long run.” 

Naveen Aggarwal, Partner - Tax, KPMG in India:

“Amidst high expectations of India Inc., the Finance Minister presented the Union Budget 2017. The Budget was based on broad themes of curbing black money, boosting individual spending, ensuring transparency and providing much needed impetus to agricultural and rural sector, infrastructure and digital economy. 

Similar to the last two years, the Budget did not bring much respite or specific announcements benefiting the M&E industry. While the expectation of overall reduction in corporate tax rate and abolition of MAT was given a miss, the proposal to reduce corporate tax rate for MSMEs to 25 per cent (having turnover up to Rs 50 crore) and increasing the MAT credit entitlement (from 10 to 15 years) is a welcome move and will benefit medium scale service companies in the M&E sector. 

While the announcement to abolish FIPB in light of successful e-governance was surprising, further liberalisation in FDI policy will be keenly watched in context of M&E industry. Lastly, the FM provided much needed assurance on roll-out of GST as per schedule, confirming GST council finalising majority of its recommendations.” 

Indian Broadcasting Foundation:

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) feels that reform-oriented Budget will help in further strengthening the foundations of the Indian economy. The massive thrust on the Infrastructure sector in general, and on the social and rural sector in particular, will go a long way in generating additional income and employment, which will, in turn, provide direct and indirect impetus on the growth of the Broadcasting sector though enhanced spends on advertisement. The 5 per cent tax relief provided to the MSME companies is also a step in the right direction. 

Hailing the Budget proposals, IBF President Punit Goenka said, “India is on the threshold of scripting a successful growth story. It is already the world’s fastest growing economy. The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister will help in consolidating the benefits of this unfolding economic regime.” He was also hopeful that some of the specific proposals and concerns raised by the broadcasters in its pre-budget memorandum are addressed soon by the Finance Minister. 

Girish Srivastava, Secretary General, IBF, added here, “The Foundation is extremely hopeful that the Government would consider the suggestion for granting ‘infrastructure status’ to the broadcasting industry, along with permission to carry forward of losses in case of amalgamation or merger as that would have made the M&E sector a more viable engine of speedy growth.” 

A Mohan, President - Legal and Regulatory Affairs, ZEEL, also re-emphasised on the need of infrastructure status for the broadcasting sector as the Broadcasting, Cable and DTH sectors fulfilled all the eligibility criteria required for qualifying as “Infrastructure services”, viz. investment criteria, creation of assets giving enduring benefits, employment criteria and contribution to exchequer in the form of direct and indirect taxes. “Accordingly, this sector deserves to be treated as Infrastructure industry, thereby qualifying for benefit u/s 72A(1) of the Income Tax Act,” he added. 

The IBF has welcomed the Finance Minister’s proposal to allow carry forward of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) up to a period of 15 years instead of the present 10 years. 

Siddhartha Roy, CEO, Hungama.com:

“Focus on digital infrastructure in the current Budget is extremely encouraging. Greater reach of broadband and data services into urban and rural India will lead to an inclusive digital economy, encouraging more people to embrace digital, driving consumption and transactions across the medium. Better quality of data is also set to give an impetus to the digital entertainment industry lead by video which is certainly poised for massive growth.” 

Divyansh Bajpai, Co-Founder, Indi.com India:

“The Union Budget 2017 lives up to our expectations, since it brings about institutional changes warranted for the evolution of a nascent digital economy. To begin with, allocating Rs 10,000 crore to Bharat Net is an impressive step in the direction of digitalisation. This is going to democratise digital access to over 150,000 gram panchayats, while also improving the Fiber Optic network. Besides, the GST Bill and allocations of Rs 745 crore to policies like MSIPS and EDF will further reduce the cost of owning a smartphone, hence making it easier for users from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities and towns to transition online. Lastly, investments in cyber security along with setting up CERT will immunise users from cyber-attacks and hacks. In conclusion, we really appreciate the announcements and feel inspired to further innovate and channel our efforts in taking the digital wave forward.”

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