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Budget reactions: Media players see great opportunities in opening up of digital access

Media players – be it television, radio, print or content producers – see a growth-oriented Budget 2018 as they believe the doubling  of allocation for Digital India drive as well as creation of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspot will give a boost to broadcasters and content consumption on-the-go. 

Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV:
“While the Union Budget has remained silent on measures specific to the broadcast industry, we do look forward to some benefits, thanks to some of the measures announced for the telecom industry and concessional corporate tax rate for entities having turnover of Rs 250 crore or below. The Rs 10,000-crore outlay for the 2018-19 fiscal for expansion of telecom infrastructure along with the proposal to set up 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots to provide broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens will be game changers for the broadcast industry as a whole. We expect this to widen the footprint and make the broadcast content accessible ‘on-the-go’ by a really large segment representing rural India. This opening of digital access to larger consumer set will enable the broadcasters to reach their content to a segment that in all probability missed the TV revolution and are now poised to move directly to VOD. The small and profitable broadcasters will see immediate benefit by the announcement of the concessional 25 per cent corporate tax. Further, we are also delighted about the announcement of Universal Health Care, a much-needed step in the right direction.” 

Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City:
“Overall, a positive Budget with favourable measures towards the agricultural sector, which will result in increased disposable income for the rural population and drive advertising revenues from the FMCG industry. The corporate tax reduction to 25 per cent for the small and medium enterprises sector is expected to drive more funds towards advertising, customer acquisition and marketing. Hence, the media industry can look forward to increased ad spends from this sector. The Digital India initiative will drive significant growth.” 

Joy chakraborty, CEO, Forbes India & President - Revenue, Network18:
“As per me, it’s an all inclusive Budget where the Finance Minister has looked at every sector – it is women friendly, senior citizens friendly, and a landmark in the healthcare sector is the National Health Policy. As the Budget is looking towards the rural economy that includes Tier 3 and 4 markets, it provides a huge boost for broadcasters who are already present in the market and the advertisers and marketers will look at this market with renewed energy, be it FMCG/ Auto/ Telecom/ Rural Banking.” 

Nisha Narayanan, COO, 93.5 Red FM:

It’s a balanced budget, very cautiously drafted keeping in mind the fiscal deficit targets. Giving boost to infra in Railways, Roads & Highways, Smaller city connectivity, Agriculture sector by increasing MSP, launch of National Healthcare Cover etc will help investments and new job opportunities. With imported items being made costlier, government has given signs to domestic manufacturers to get an edge.

We feel that all above should give businesses a reason to spend more on advertising and marketing spends and overall increase consumer spending. Government has announced measures for small & medium industry sector. As FM radio readies itself to get into medium & smaller cities we hope that budget provisions will give boost to market expansion potential by increasing rural spending.

In due course when GST will get settled we are hopeful that monies will start flowing to some of these areas. Key infra sector spending will lead to improvement in consumer spending. Some action on reducing excise duty on fuels would have helped consumer sentiments apart from expected change in IT slabs.

Overall, we find the budget a balanced aimed at growth and not getting just into populist measures which is good for long term economic health.

Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO, Sakal Media Group:
“Overall, it is a balanced Budget which looks at growth drivers in a pre-election year, with focus on agriculture, health, infrastructure, employment, education and MSMEs. There are significant cues for investment in the social sector, and middle to bottom of the pyramid, and that should lead to improved consumer spend capability and actual consumption. 

I think the emphasis on technology adoption, digital investments and e-enablement of a large range of government services, coupled with Wi-Fi expansion, 5G deployment, suburban and rural wireless connectivity thrust augurs well for the Digital Media Industry as it improves adoption and hence, rapid evolution of the creative, media trade, and publishing ecosystem. 

For the advertising industry as a whole, our impact is tied to the overall corporate sentiment for investment and brand promotion, and consumer spend confidence based on improved earnings. While introduction of the long term capital gains (LTCG) tax is a negative cue, I believe that the market will shrug the ennui and move forward, thereby creating more jobs and higher revenues in the media and entertainment sector as a whole.” 

Megha Tata, COO, BTVI:
“Budget announcements signal a stronger ecosystem for the media and broadcast industry. In continuation with my pre-budget expectations, I am happy that Finance Minister has kept his promise by reducing corporate tax rate to 25 per cent.” 

Deepak Lamba, CEO, Worldwide Media:
“The ‘Digital India’ programme has received a major boost with doubling of the allocation to Rs 3,073 Crore for the coming year. Budget 2018 has proposed the set-up of 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in rural areas, thereby providing broadband access to 5 crore rural citizens. Much to the delight of digital media players, this move will open extended avenues for them and give a strong push to regional and mainstream digital content in these markets. With extensive broadband penetration, affordable data prices and smartphones, the vision for Digital India could well come to fruition in the coming years. Lastly, the estimated growth of over 7 per cent for the next fiscal creates a positive sentiment for India’s economic and financial ecosystem.” 

Anup Vijai, COO, Contiloe Pictures:
“We expected a cut in the corporate tax and also some relief to the salaried class. The good thing that has happened is the reduction in corporate tax to 25 per cent from 30 per cent for companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore. However, this year’s Budget has brought no major relief to the salaried class.”

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