Ahead of the Union Budget, a top body of broadcasters has written to the government seeking “Infrastructure Status” for the broadcasting industry.
According to sources, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), a body which has leading broadcasters as its members, has in a representation to the Finance Ministry said the Indian broadcasting industry is a mass employment creator which as of date has employed nearly 10 million people across the value chain.
Given its large size and revenue projections, the sector is expected to contribute Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 35,000 crore in the form of Direct and Indirect Taxes by 2020.
The broadcasters have argued that in the present era of convergence of telecommunication, information technology (IT) and broadcasting technology, the distinction between telecom services and broadcasting services has got blurred.
They have also mentioned that by way of a notification January 9, 2004 issued by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Department of Telecommunications), the Centre has notified Broadcasting Services and Cable Services to be Telecommunication Service under TRAI Act 1997.
Yet it is inexplicable that whereas the telecom is considered as Infrastructure Sector and thus entitled to various benefits and incentives whereas the same is denied to Broadcasting and Content Distribution Sector, the IBF is learnt to have conveyed.
It is learnt that the IBF has also raised the issue of granting extension of certain tax provisions to broadcasting organisations including DTH and Cable sector.
The broadcasters are learnt to have conveyed to the Finance Ministry that while telecom services are treated as infrastructure services and are eligible for various benefits and incentives including the benefits under Section 80-IA and Section 72A of the Income Tax Act.
“There is a view that the need for level playing field and the parity demands that all these benefits should be extended to broadcasting services as well. Broadcasting Services promises similar growth potential and can repeat the success story of telecom provided if it is given imputes by the government,” a broadcaster said.