Budget 2019: M&E industry hails fillip to film sector, boost to digital consumption

The industry has come all out to hail the pro-growth Budget presented by Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in Parliament yesterday (February 1, 2019). The Media & Entertainment industry specifically have praised the effort to give a boost to the Indian film industry by means of providing a single window clearance for filmmakers. The M&E industry has also hailed the Budget for addressing the serious problem of piracy by announcing an anti cam-cording provision to combat piracy of films and music. The provisions under the Digital India drive is also seen as giving a boost to digital content consumption, especially in Tier 2, 3 and rural India. 

Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India:
“The Budget appears to be a good effort to balance welfare goals and fiscal prudence. Despite being an Interim Budget, there are some welcome moves for the Industry - such as the single window clearance for Indian filmmakers, as well as anti cam-cording provision to combat piracy of films and music. In the government’s continuing commitment to a Digital India, I see a great opportunity for digital content consumption to spread further into Bharat. Overall, I would say, a positive one.” 

Utkarsh Sanghvi, Partner, Indirect Tax, Media & Entertainment, EY India:
“The Government has already set up a Film Facilitation Office (FFO) for enabling a single window clearance for foreign film companies shooting in India. It is a welcome measure for Indian Films to take benefit of FFO. Most of the permissions required from Central and State Government agencies are expected to be received from a single online application. From January 2019, GST rate on film tickets costing less than Rs 100 was reduced to 12 per cent from 18 per cent and on tickets costing more than Rs 100 the GST rate was reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent. The art and cultural champion services sector was positively recognised by GST Council by reclassifying the entertainment service from luxury and sin bracket of taxation to standard rate schedule.” 

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, Viacom18:
“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 offense and will act as a strong deterrent to piracy.” 

Aashish Singh, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures:
“Single window clearance for Indian film makers is a very welcome move and brings Indian film making at par with evolved International destinations where filming is easy. This will also save time for the producers and discourage malpractices that were being followed by some of the authorities in granting permissions to shoot the films.” 

Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City:
“The Interim Budget 2019 has indeed lived up to the expectations of the common man with an estimated 12 crore farmers, 3 crore taxpayers and 30 crore labourers poised to benefit from the provisions. The pro-growth Budget addresses key factors such as lessening GST burden on homebuyers, rural development and providing a boost for SMEs. We are hopeful that this will increase the domestic spending power of organisations , build consumer confidence and provide a boost to our economy as we steer towards a ‘New India’. With the radio industry gearing up for a transformational year with the convergence of media, technology and telecom industries, the government’s vision to further accelerate the Digital India program will help streamline this transition positively.” 

Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana:
“We are extremely positive about the implication of the proposed Budget and strongly believe in the Digital Revolution introduced by the government. The increased consumption of mobile data in the last five years has paved way for the streaming market in India. It will impact the mobile streaming industry in multiple ways, mainly by strengthening penetration in tier II and tier III markets while also increasing exposure among a new set of a potential user base. Enhancing stickiness for the app and encouraging trials, the vision for Digital India will help Music Streaming apps attain their full potential in the online music space. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence coupled with Big Data will help bridge the gap between demand and supply through insightful analysis of evolving consumer preferences.”

Mitesh Shah, Head of Finance, BookMyShow:
“The Interim Budget for 2019 has been a shot in the arm for several sections of the society through its tax relief measures for the middle class and mega schemes for farmers.” 

“We appreciate the Budget’s recognition of India’s start-up ecosystem’s contribution to the economy and the creation of a Digital India in Vision 2030 is indicative of the long road ahead for this ecosystem. The Budget, however, did not offer clarity on issues surrounding the angel tax much to the dismay of the industry’s expectations. Facilitating a conducive growth environment for such companies is key and hence, clarity around taxation and the regulatory environment will further help build a strong technology ecosystem which can contribute to the government’s vision of India as a $5 trillion economy over the next 5 years.” 

“It is probably for the first time in several years that the entertainment industry has been hailed as a force of employment generation. 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.” 

“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.” 

“There has been a slight slippage in the fiscal deficit for FY19 with the government having revised it to 3.4 per cent from the earlier budgeted 3.3 per cent of the GDP. While the Budget has offered various increases in outlays, no new policy to boost revenue found a mention by the Finance Minister. This may further strain the government’s ability to meet its fiscal deficit target and may have an impact on India’s credit rating. The introduction of a new Direct Income Support Scheme for farmers and subsidised agricultural loans are likely to boost the rural economy but the government may have to be watchful of possible rise in fiscal costs as a result of this.” 

Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions:

“This year’s budget brings nothing but good news to the entertainment industry. The government, via a single window clearance for film makers, has made a commendable effort to streamline and simplify procedures and permissions. This will not only make it simple for domestic productions, but foreign film makers as well, hence improving the media landscape. With recent films being leaked to the audiences within days of its release, the Anti-camcording provision comes as a boon to the industry which has been fighting piracy all these years and suffering huge losses in the process. Lastly, a step in the right direction with regards to a national centre for artificial intelligence will only lead into companies implementing these modern technologies into their products. When we look at the bigger picture, the customer experience is only going to improve going by these recent announcements.”

Preetham Daniel, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing - Asia, Harkness Screens:
“Overall, it is an inclusive Budget addressing the needs of salaried section, pensioners, farmers and realty sector. In relation to the entertainment industry, single window clearance for film makers 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 the pave way for better penetration of content in all formats. India has an average screen density of 1 screen per population of 155,000. 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.” 

Producer Anand Pandit:
“First of all I want to congratulate Shri Narendra Modiji’s government and Shri Piyush Goyalji for giving us a fantastic Budget for 2019. 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 myself will be able to make films far easier and in shorter amount of time.”


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