Perspective | Radio & TV Broadcaster's expectations from the Budget

The Union Budget for the Financial Year 2015-16 is just a day away and everyone is eyeing on what it brings to the table. Be it the aam aadmi, or various industries or the media. This time we at Adgully caught up with some of the broadcasters to know what they expect from the Union Budget 2015-16. Here’s a sneak peek into what some of them had to say.

Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV said, “From this budget we expect the Broadcasting Industry shall be granted the infrastructure status in order to further push the digitization agenda of the government. We also expect a clarification that the transponder hire charges are not same as ‘Royalty’.”

Adding to which she said, “Additionally, we expect the reduction of customs duty on set top boxes to the earlier 5%. This we believe shall be important in order to stimulate growth of digitization in phase 3 & 4.”

Athar Khan, Editor–At –Large (Roving Editor), NewsX said, “We have huge expectations from the FM.. Like everyone else in the country we are finally hoping for a budget that is conducive for the growth of the economy. We are looking forward to a possible increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in media houses and conglomerates. FDI in news and the digital space has been promised, mulled and discussed by various Governments over the years however, never delivered.  An increase in the FDI ceiling will potentially bring in large investments in the sector, which in turn will benefit not just the companies but also has the potential to boost salary structures in the industry bringing them at par with international standards. Concessions in service tax for media houses is another aspect we can look forward to."

He adds, "The possibility of an earlier roll out of the GST (GOODS & SERVICES TAX) by this Government is also something that we are hoping for. A streamlined tax structure will benefit the industry immensely. The Government can also look into giving the broadcasting sector infrastructure status on the lines of the telecom sector. A boost for the manufacturing sector will be welcome too as television sets, set top boxes and other products related to the media and entertainment industry can also indirectly help the industry’s augmentation. We can also expect some more channels to be launched as the I&B minister has already shown interest in a Government owned channel as proposed by the previous Government. If the growth is robust, as promised by the Modi Government then the advertising budgets of big corporates would also see an increase which will enhance the ad revenues for the channels which is the sole source of revenue for the broadcasting industry.”

Nisha Narayanan, COO, 93.5 RED FM said, “Phase III would definitely increase the market size and hence we are looking at it as an opportunity. However as the auctions are going in batchwise format, and all these are Phase 2 leftover frequencies, these are all markets which have seen radio evolving hence we expect a moderate growth in terms of industry size.”

She adds, “In 2015 one can see more from us in terms of RED LIVE concerts, RED Digital and RED Activations. We are currently in the process of strengthening our teams and infrastructure to capitalise on our strength of presence in every nook and corner of the nation as largest radio network.”

Speaking about how 2014 was, she said, “RED FM registered healthy double digit growth – in the range of 20-25% YoY in first 3 quarters of the year. The good thing about this growth was that it was registered in almost all stations where we are operating. While there was a positive growth in volume, a lot of it can also be contributed to the rate correction give was long overdue.”

She added, “For us North& West stations grew most followed by South and Central India. In East we saw good growth happening from major cities like Guwahati, Bhubaneswar and Jamshedpur which was not only driven thru the FCT business but also through initiatives like RED LIVES and Activations.”

While they also expect to maintain the momentum of growth in double digit and at the same time make the brand RED bigger by taking the NTR properties like RED LiVE & RED Bandstand to mini metros as well.

R K Arora, CEO, News Nation said, “Every time broadcasters have some expectations. Firstly, we want a reduction in customs duty so that set top boxes are cheaper. Secondly, is the reduction in service tax from the current 12.36%. Whereas, in case of print, it is 15% against the commission, but in case of television we have to pay 12.36% of the advertising value. So whatever is applicable to print should be applicable to television as well.” He adds, “Broadcasters are looking for an increase in FDI from 26% to 49%.”

On asking expectations from the budget this year, Harrish Bhatia, CEO, MY FM, said, “Firstly, As the auction for the Phase III have been announced, we want auctions to get completed soon which will open exciting opportunities for the entire industry. Now radio will grow to its true potential. Secondly we want the restriction in news broadcasting by Government for private radio channels should be removed to prevent content differentiation. Thirdly, the copyright board is also not in place which has left the music royalty issue unresolved and it will have negative impact going forward on Phase III. Fourthly, on DAVP rates, the government has been unable to create a price model which is linked to listenership and pays radio stations according to it in a particular city, currently old radio station (before 2007) get dis-proportionately higher price and new radio stations get unexpectedly lower price. We want the government to look at these issues this year for the industry growth.”

He also mentioned about last year saying that, “Year 2014 has been a good year for overall radio industry. Political parties especially BJP has been utilizing the medium to reach out to the people as radio has last mile connectivity and reaches out to the lowest common denominator in the economy. Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the biggest ambassador of radio using it for his show on radio Mann Ki Baat realizing the reach potential of the medium and it is the biggest endorsement that the medium has received. We hope advertisers also take cue from this and make radio an integral part of their media plan in the coming year.” By Archit Ambekar | Twitter: @aambarchit


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