The minister said he was in favour of faster roll-out of the on-going digitisation initiative in the industry.
Following a close-door interaction with 35-odd chief executives and other senior executives from the media and entertainment sector spanning almost two hours Union Minister of State for Information & BroadcastingPrakash Javadekar, promised a stable policy regime with transparency and a time-bound mechanism to redress issues affecting the sector. Javadekar said he was open to the idea of private FM channels broadcasting news not only from All India Radio — as proposed earlier — but also allowing channels to pick up content from “three-four” other sources. The minister said he was in favour of a faster roll-out of the on-goingdigitisationinitiative in the industry, and expediting the phase III auction of licences for FM radio. Information & Broadcasting ministry is currently in the process of giving out licences for starting 800-odd FM channels in 200 Tier-II and-III cities and towns. Emphasising the need for expanding the reach of community radio, the minister said that there were plans to open up 1,000-odd community radio stations in near future.
In an event organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, earlier in the day some key industry representatives - that included Star TV CEO Uday Shankar, Aroon Purie, chairman & editor-in-chief, The India Today Group, Harit Nagpal, MD & CEO, Tata Sky, KVL Narayan Rao, executive vice chairperson, NDTV Group, Prasar Bharti CEO Jawhar Sircar, Radio Mirchi MD Prashant Panday film industry veteran Amit Khanna - briefed the minister on issues affecting sectors such as broadcast, print, films, radio, direct-to-home, digital cable, news broadcast and public service broadcast.
Speaking on side-lines of the event, Punit Goenka, managing director & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, pointed out media and entertainment industry was reeling from multiplicity of taxes that included VAT, service tax, and entertainment tax. "Some of these taxes need to be subsumed as GST comes into effect" said Amit Khanna, past president, The Film & Television Producers Guild of India. Other industry honchos highlighted the need for giving infrastructure status to the sector - a long- pending demand - that would allow it to attract foreign and institutional capital.
Though the minister asked the industry to come out with Budget proposals by early next week which he would then take up with Ministry of Finance, most industry players appeared sceptical of getting any relief. "Unless the Ministry of Finance changes its perception of media and entertainment industry from glamour to a growth sector, the whole exercise is futile," said an industry player, who has been associated with similar petitioning of government for sops and relaxations for many years.