Since the introduction of goods and services tax (GST), the film industry has been seeking uniform taxes on movie tickets, as tickets priced over Rs 100 fall in the 18 percent GST bracket and cheaper tickets attract 12 percent tax.
Hence, the film industry continues to urge the government to keep a single tax in Budget 2019, which will be presented by the new Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Preetham Daniel, Senior Vice President, Asia, Harkness Screens, said, “If we are able to implement 12 percent GST on all tickets sold irrespective of the ticket price, this would boost growth for cinema viewership across the country.”
He further said that “Today, we have 8,200 screens in the country. 650 of them are below Rs 50 per ticket, 1,620 of them are between Rs 50- to Rs 100- per ticket. This makes up to roughly 27 percent of the overall screens in the country. If such reforms are not introduced, it may become very difficult to run these cinemas.”
“It may be a good initiative to reduce the bracket for below Rs 100 per ticket price to 5 percent GST,” he added.
Asheesh Chatterjee, CFO, Reliance Broadcast Network (RBNL), an ADAG group company, is also hoping for a reduction in GST rates for radio broadcasts that are in line with print in the upcoming budget.
Along with GST, industry players are urging the government to push more digital reforms.
“Digital India will bolster the music streaming economy by enhancing its accessibility to tier II and tier III markets. Given the online user-base for music streaming is expected to reach 400 million by 2021, this potential influx of a wider set of internet users will encourage more advertisers to employ OTT platforms for audience segmentation and targeting to drive higher revenue," said Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana.
Another expectation from Budget 2019 is provisions for exemptions. Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India said that “Being an insights company that works closely with big data, investments in R&D is an ongoing practice and therefore we are hopeful that provisions for exemptions are made since it will also fuel growth across the sector.”
According to N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research, “The focus areas (this Budget) must be those that show direct and immediate impact in the micro and macro economy.”
With the media and entertainment (M&E) becoming an aspirational sector for the youth and also a catalyst in job creation, Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media is optimistic that the budget will enable a positive growth for the sector. “The government has worked towards promoting and stabilizing the media and entertainment industry with initiatives like the implementation of single window clearance and GST, which have been effective in aiding the entertainment industry,” he added.