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Dear FM… What the radio & broadcast players expect from Budget 2018-19

Today’s the Big B day, when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Union Budget for 2018-19. This Budget is seen as a crucial one, coming after the implementation of GST and in the penultimate year before the 2019 General Elections in the country. Will it be a populist Budget or have tough measures taking into account the current economic climate of the country? This question will be answered in just an hour from now. 

Adgully has been speaking to a cross-section of India’s leading advertising, digital and media industry experts to find out what they are expecting from the Budget. In this report, we explore the wishlists of the country’s leading Radio and Broadcast players. 

Radio 

Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, Radio One:

Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, Radio One
Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, Radio One
My wishlist includes:

  • Lower corp taxes
  • No taxes on earnings from equity funds after 12 months
  • Growth in investment into inclusive infra

 

Rahul Namjoshi, Business Head, My FM:

Rahul Namjoshi
Rahul Namjoshi
Our wishlist from the Budget:

  • Custom duty waiver on import of equipment: Waiver on import duties will come as a good relief. Currently, all major equipment is imported by radio stations in the country
  • Reduction in GST: Just like the print industry, if the GST can be reduced to 5 per cent from the current 18 per cent

 

Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM:

Nisha Narayanan
Nisha Narayanan
We see it as an upbeat and positive year and hence, expect the Budget to come with a lot of initiatives which will help economy to grow and get desired 7-8 per cent GDP growth rate. 

Post demonetisation and GST implementations, markets had gone in a shell, but now there are signs of positivity and momentum has picked in industrial and infra sectors. We are sure that the fruits of some of the harsher steps taken by the Government will bear fruits now. 

For the private FM radio industry, we hope the Government will announce some incentives to as we expand to the last mile of country. Current reserve prices for some cities had kept lot of players away from auctions in many BC & D type of cities. 

During the year we hope that there will be progress on digitisation for FM and private FM operators will get subsidy for import of latest technology to move from analog to digital and once that’s done, we will be able to see newer formats and variety in content. 

Hope that as print, we will also be bracketed in 5 per cent GST slab instead of 18 per cent to boost advertising from retailers and small traders – this is crucial as FM radio will now have footprints in over 400+ cities of the country and lot of new businesses can look at radio to expand their business. 

The Government should consider our non-radio business (that is, Events, Activations, Digital, Talent Marketing & Content Monetisation) to be exempted from revenue sharing to improve out bottom lines. 

Broadcasters 

Punit Goenka
Punit Goenka
Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd and President, Indian Broadcasting Foundation:
In the rapidly changing landscape, we believe that the distinction between telecom, IT and broadcasting technology has disappeared and that a convergence of these sectors is required. A positive consideration of this demand in the 2018 Budget will certainly help in the rapid growth and generation of substantial employment in our country. Also, similar to the telecommunications sector, television broadcasting organizations, including Direct-to-Home (DTH), cable services and Headend in the Sky (HITS) require huge investments in setting up technology and distribution networks and, as such, are ‘asset-rich’ organisations. Hence, just like in the software and telecom sectors, it is necessary to allow for the carry-forward of losses in the case of amalgamation or merger of companies in the broadcasting sector. 

For the Budget FY18, we are also hopeful that the Government will issue a clarification stating that transponder hire charges are not ‘royalty’ in order to avoid protracted litigation. 

Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV:

Vikas Khanchandani
Vikas Khanchandani
The M&E industry will continue on its exponential growth path as we get high speed data connectivity and the corresponding data costs continue to decline. Data growth has risen on the back of high video consumption on the go and will continue to play a pivotal role for growth in both M& E and Telecom sectors. Keeping in mind the expected growth, one long-pending wish I have from the Budget is the recognition of the M& E industry as an integral part of the Infrastructure sector so that it can avail the various benefits and incentives that are given to the Infrastructure sector. This includes better financing options, to help boost the capital investments needed in digitisation & digitalisation, technology upgradation and new technology development & deployment. The net benefit of all of the above will always flow back to the consumer. 

Megha Tata, COO, BTVI:

Megha Tata
Megha Tata
Now that the GST jitters are receding and GDP growth rebounding to 6.3 per cent in Q2 of FY2017-18, I am confident about growth of broadcast industry in FY2018-19. Having said that, I wish to see average GST rate for media and entertainment sector be bought down from the existing 18 per cent to the pre-GST levels of 15 per cent. I am hopeful about the Finance Minister keeping his words by reducing the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent as promised by him in the Union Budget 2015-16 speech.

For more news on BUDGET 2018 visit here.

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