Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee delivered a budget that brought some cheer and some additional taxation to the media sector. Key points:
1) Fringe Benefit Tax abolished: This was a key demand from many players in contentSutra’s Wishlist For The New I&B Minister. Many key overheads for media houses, such as travel, come under Fringe Benefit Tax. The proposed introduction of a Goods and Services Taxes (GST) regime is seen as a positive for all media companies.
2) Excise duty of 5% on Set Top Boxes (STBs) reintroduced: The government had exempted STBs from duty last year to encourage digitization. Most of the STBs used by the DTH and digital cable industry are imported from China and Korea.
3) Increased DAVP rates to stay: During the height of economic slowdown and ahead of general elections, the government had increased discounted ad rates paid by various government agencies by 10%, in addition to discontinuing a 15% agency commission. These waivers will stay for another six months.
Anjan Mitra, Executive Director-India, Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA):