With efforts to usher in digitisation in the country, the government is mulling over a set of proposals including a 10-year tax holiday, duty exemptions, granting infrastructure status etc for the broadcasting industry.
More intensive discussions are expected to take place in a meeting on Monday.
"I&B ministry is considering certain cable industry demands, which includes a 10-year long tax holiday under Sec 81 (A) of the Income Tax Act so as to help improve broadcasting infrastructure. Another proposal being considered is the granting on infrastructure status in line with the telecom sector," said a senior government official.
"There is also a proposal to enable carry forwarding of losses and incentives to take over loss making companies, customs duty exemption for Set Top Boxes (STB) and on new certain headend equipment," the official added.
To expedite these and other issues in the backdrop of digitisation, the I&B ministry has formed several subgroups to deal with the issue of STBs, frame detailed rules on amendments to the cable TV networks regulations act, promotion of awareness at the consumer end, creating capacity-building and training procedures, and of course fiscal incentives for the industry.
According to sources, a proposal to up foreign direct investment in the sector from 49% to 74% is also expected to be expedited for smoother changeover to digitisation.
About 6.8 crore STBs will be needed for the entire digitisation process with about 1 crore for the first phase by June 2012 which will be implemented in the four metros.
India is targeting complete digitisation by 31 December, 2014. The digitisation plan aiming at a transition from the prevalent analog system to a digital one is being seen as a game-changer. Broadcasters will increase their subscription revenues ending a regime of hefty carriage fees they pay to cable TV operators in the Rs 20,000 crore industry substantially bringing down operational cost of running channels. Digitisation will bring in clearer subscription figures for broadcasters, a grey area now.
Consumers will be able to select channels of their choice with digital broadcasts having sharper pictures, better sound quality and a bigger number of channels.