Industry POV

Calling it a media-neutral Budget, M&E leaders give thumbs up to digital push

02 Feb 2017

The industry has welcomed the push for digitisation and consumption, the encouragement for rural and employment projects, and the efforts towards tax relaxation for MSMEs

The Media and Entertainment industry, along with marketers, have given a thumbs-up to the Union Budget 2017 announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday, terming it as “digital economy friendly”.

The other factors applauded by the industry representatives include the push for digitisation and consumption, encouragement for rural and employment projects and the efforts towards tax relaxation for micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The abolishment of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was also welcomed by some sectors.

Naveen Aggarwal, Partner, Tax, KPMG India

The Budget was based on broad themes of curbing black money, boosting individual spending, ensuring transparency and providing much needed impetus to the agricultural and rural sector, infrastructure and digital economy. Like in the past two years, the Budget did not have much respite or specific announcements for the M&E industry. While the announcement to abolish FIPB in light of successful e-governance was surprising, further liberalisation in foreign direct investment (FDI) policy will be keenly watched in context of the M&E industry.

Punit Goenka, President, IBF

India is on the threshold of scripting a successful growth story. It is already the world’s fastest growing economy. The Union Budget will help in consolidating the benefits of this unfolding economic regime. The budget proposals are a transparent instrument for prudent fiscal management. I am hopeful that some of the specific proposals and concerns raised by the broadcasters in its pre-budget memorandum are addressed soon by the Finance Minister.

As MD and CEO of ZEEL, Goenka tweeted: #Budget2017 speaks a lot about the Government’s positive and committed approach towards creating a stronger and balanced economy. Being directionally right and focused on spending in growth-centric areas, it clearly reassures the fact that #Remonetisation is in!

 Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 & Chairman, M&E Committee, CII

Much had been speculated about the economic slowdown post demonetisation. With this Budget, the government has taken important steps to boost the economy in a structured manner, building on the promise of transparent growth. I am particularly enthused by the strong reforms push for digitisation and look forward to digital transactions increasing in the country. This augurs well for digital consumption of video content. I’ve said this before and will say it again: as the M&E sector we have a lot to gain from buoyance in the economy at the aggregate level and I believe this Budget has delivered on that front.

Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network

Budget 2017 is neutral for the M&E sector although the consumption-centric budget will put more money in the pocket of the common man and hence help the advertising and broadcast industries. The radio broadcast industry has requested specific policy measures like 5 per cent GST rate, reduction in custom duty for capex, etc. We look forward to the announcements when the GST rates are announced.

MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network

After the recent massive policy implementation of demonetisation, my expectation was of some radical reforms. I was a bit disappointed on that count. However, enhanced provision for MNREGA and allocations for rural, agriculture and the allied sector and a clear push for the affordable housing are the silver linings. Agriculture and real estate are the most important employment generating sectors in India. This should improve the rural situation, which is still recovering from demonetisation. Hopefully that will have a ripple effect on spending and the larger economy.

Joy Chakraborthy, President, Revenues, TV18 and CEO, Forbes India

100 per cent rural electrification by 2018 is a major step towards truly realising the dream of digital India. Moreover, it will contribute in a big way to India's GDP, and help economic as well as social development. Electricity and telecom go hand in hand. It will increase sales of gadgets. It will increase consumption of content on all screen types, be it television, smartphones, iPads, laptops, or any other screens. Television will definitely see a huge increase in viewership due to more content being consumed, which in turn will encourage advertising spends of brands to rise.

Girish Srivastava, Secretary General, IBF

The Foundation was extremely hopeful that the Government would consider the suggestion for granting ‘infrastructure status’ to the broadcasting industry along with permission to carry forward of losses in case of amalgamation or merger as that would have made the M&E sector a more viable engine of speedy growth.

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO, FCB India

The focus on reviving rural consumption, digital India and SWAYAM were the highlights of Budget 2017 for me. The high impetus on digitization will pave the way for empowerment of the common man, and will open doors to a massive opportunity, untapped as of now, in the digital space. Overall, it’s a progressive budget.”

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network

The Budget has some good growth-oriented features which should help the overall economic growth. Whenever the economy grows by 1 percentage point, advertising grows by 1.5- 2 per cent, and therefore this should benefit the advertising industry in the long run. There are several steps to encourage digitisation. This is the right direction and eventually this will also benefit the advertising industry. The fact that service tax was not raised is a relief and the Finance Minister has taken into account the sufferings caused by temporary setbacks due to demonetization and that is a welcome step. There was an expectation that corporate taxation would be reduced. Unfortunately, particularly for mid to large organized sector, that has not happened. Overall, the Budget is better than what we had anticipated for the Advertising & Media industry in my view.

Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group

It’s a good budget overall and an extremely positive one for the digital industry. The strong focus on promoting a digital economy through various initiatives on the digital payments front will give a great impetus to the digital revolution that the country is currently undergoing. We are witnessing a significant increase in digital transactions owing to the cashless movement already, which is a huge indication of the times to come – largely in the benefit of the common man. It’s encouraging to see the government introduce movements like ‘Digi-gaav’ and others which will take digital technology to rural areas where most of the country’s population is actually based. This aggressive digital push is sure to contribute substantially in making India one of the fastest growing economies in 2017.

Deepak Lamba, CEO, Worldwide Media

Budget 2017 doesn’t include much on the M&E sector. However, there are some points that will have a positive impact on our industry. The budget reinforced India's huge shift towards digitisation, especially with the proposed deployment of high optic cables to increase internet penetration in rural India. This is a big positive for content creators like us, as it will boost digital content consumption across online and mobile platforms. Further impetus on digital payments and transactions will eventually help the subscription model. Also, the government's move to abolish FIPB to make the inflow of FDI smoother and to consider liberalisation of the FDI policy will have a positive impact for players across sectors in the long run.

Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group

The reduction in the income tax rate for the lowest slab from 10 per cent to 5 per cent will provide a fiscal stimulus of around Rs 14,000 crore in the hands of over one crore people. Even though it is a small amount, it will have some positive impact on spends and consumption.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm

It is a digital economy budget. The government has pushed the digital theme in every area of the budget. Every person from small shops to consumers is pushed towards the digital economy. Tax benefits, incentives to use digital payments and extending loans based on a digital footprint will create a larger merchant ecosystem for digital payments. Overall, it is a great budget that will encourage people to move to the formal economy and derive benefits.

Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra & Jabong

Budget 2017 is focused on bringing growth back to the economy post demonetisation. While there is no specific focus on the ecommerce sector, the overall thrust on the digital economy will enable the industry to flourish. The move to abolish the FIPB will help fasten FDI investments in the country. In addition, the focus on infrastructure and railways will enable the ecommerce industry to grow and expand its reach to all corners of the country. The allocation of a large budget for high speed broadband will enhance connectivity for the citizens and lead to an increase in ecommerce and digital payments. Measures to boost consumer spending is a welcome move. Overall the budget is largely positive; some more clarity on the rollout of GST would have been helpful.

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