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Budget 2019: M&E upbeat about FDI in media, expansion of Bharat Net

The Government’s proposal to further open FDI in media has been widely welcomed by the M&E industry, though they are waiting for more details and clarity. 

Adgully had presented the preliminary responses of the M&E industry yesterday (July 5, 2019) on the various proposals of the Union Budget 2019. Continuing with the industry reactions, more stalwarts of the M&E industry have shared their reactions with us… 

Also read: Union Budget 2019 reactions: M&E industry hails impetus to growth & digital

Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network:
“The proposal to ease FDI norms for the media industry has come at an opportune time. It will allow us to invest in digital assets, upgrade technology and human skill enhancement. The transponder based model of all media and definitely for news media is changing. No longer will we need to uplink our signals to satellites and then downlink on the basis of a transponder, so the leasing of transponders and satellites will become history. Instead, we will have internet based TV, which means app based TV. This has already started. It will enable TV channels to become global very quickly, by eliminating the cost of transponders, satellite TV stations can become global by investing in hiring more people, having international bureaus and becoming international stations. All this needs vision and investors. This will help the Indian media and entertainment industry to move to the next level and even aspire to become a global content hub. The cost of becoming global will benefit from the new investment that this budget has allowed. From a News Broadcaster’s perspective, it is now possible to envision a scenario when an Indian player can go international like the CNN, the BBC and the CGTN.” 

S Sundaram, Group CFO, Republic TV:

"Today's Budget announcements clearly reinforces the Governments objective of pushing for contiued 'inclusive growth' going by the stress placed by means of measures like national grid for power, insuring tap water for everyone and emphasis on affordable housing. It is also notable that the government believes startup facilitation requires attention and care along with the urgent need for encouraging a research mindset set in a more structured approach. The intention to examine FDI rules will be tracked with a keen interest as some measures are required to extricate the economy which seems like slowing down given Auto sector production cuts and continued sluggishness on credit offtake. There is no mention of inheritance or wealth tax, much to the relief of several policy pundits."

Nisha Narayanan, COO and Director, RED FM and Magic FM:
“Indian economy is all set to become a $3 trillion economy and the first Budget by the Modi Government has introduced several benefits. The Budget proposes more Foreign Investment in Media, currently the FDI stands at 49 per cent for the private FM radio industry which we now hope will be opened up to 100 per cent like DTH and Entertainment. Liberalisation of same will also majorly help in private FM station to reach the current media dark cities in India and adapt new era digital technologies and best practices being followed globally. The budget facilitates the transformation of the Indian economy into a digital economy with special focus on cash less transactions. We hope that in the long run, we will be able to derive the benefits of the special initiatives and incentives announced by the Financial Minister for tax rebate on e-vehicles, push for affordable housing, increase in the turnover limit of Rs 400 crore for companies to fall in the tax bracket of 25 per cent. Additional deduction benefit on home loans, focus on empowering women and announcing infrastructure push for railways, highways and education will also be beneficial for the radio sector.” 

Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Prakashan:
“I welcome the Budget presented by the Finance Minister. It is clear the Government wants to reverse weakening growth and investment, and regain the tag of being the fastest growing economy in the world. To make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, this Budget has focused on investment-driven growth, with an added emphasis on infrastructure and digital economy. I strongly think that the decision of opening the gates for FDI in the media industry will usher a positive change in our sector. Additionally, by way of proposed changes, the Government seeks to enhance women’s participation in scripting India’s growth story, which is crucial for any developing nation. However, much more needs to be done to fuel immediate consumption and improve sentiment.”

Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player:
“The Government’s steps in opening up FDI further in the media and entertainment sector would help boost media entrepreneurs as well as talent. MX Player’s growth strategy is based on creating premium original content for the larger Indian audience, and the expansion of Bharat Net would offer a great opportunity to OTT platforms like ours to reach a vibrant & diverse audience beyond the metros and Tier I cities.” 

Bharat Khatri, Country Lead, India Xaxis:
“FDI in media is a welcome move, but would require more clarity and stability. The move will definitely drive incremental investments and more capital intensity followed by pure digitisation of the networks. Hence, enhanced FDI limits will help the industry as more and more players, especially start-ups, will start building good quality content network on a larger scale.” 

Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana:
“This Budget, we are particularly excited about the potential of Bharat Net in facilitating free access to digital-first services like governance, education, banking and entertainment across rural India. As every panchayat in the country gets internet connectivity, it will make way for an entire generation of digitally literate citizens who live better lives and create a vibrant market for the Internet entrepreneurs and businesses.”

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