The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) on Monday said that it has written to Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting requesting him for economic and rehabilitation package to tackle the crisis on the Television Broadcast sector as a fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.
IBF has made over 18 requests to the I&B Ministry which include relief mainly concerned with tax, regulatory issues, and distribution platform operators.
Distribution Platform Operators
- Mandated digital payments of subscription and advertising dues to broadcasters
- Advising DPOs to release subscription fees up to 29th Feb, 2020
- Waiver of carriage fee due to Prasar Bharati for April-June for FTA channels on DD Free Dish
- Defer of payment due to Prasar Bharati for DD Free Dish carriage till July 2020
- Two year period for operationalization of new channels which have been granted permission
- Suspension of Performance Bank Guarantees for channels sought to be launched for a period of one year from the resumption of normal business activities
- Waiver of permission for FX payments for foreign satellite transponder hiring
- Waiver of processing fee and temporary live uplinking fee for live sporting events
- Regulatory moratorium of 18 months for the sector
- Phased resumption of production activities
- Moratorium period extension for GST payment
- Urgent processing of refunds exceeding Rs 5 Lacs
- Doing away with 1st installment of advance tax and letting taxpayers pay the 2nd installment directly without any interest liability
- Extension of due date for TDS deposit up to May 2020 for March and April 2020
- Lower rates of TDS from 10% to 2% on subscription revenues
- Stay on all IT demand for 6 months without any new hearing
- Discharge of GST reverse charge obligation through GST input credit rather than paying in cash
- Stamp Duty payment of agreements is deferred up to expiry of ninety days from the lifting of national lockdown
“The outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has posed several challenges for the Television Broadcast Sector. With complete cessation of production of television shows, cancellations of live sporting events and scheduled advertisements, advertisement bookings nosediving by ~50%; delays in payments by advertising agencies/advertisers and distribution platform operators, the Broadcast sector is facing the brunt of the slowdown”.
“Moreover, while we welcome the compliance and statutory relaxations granted by the Government in its latest notification of 15th April, the Broadcast Sector is seeking a stimulus package from the Government in the form of economic relief and regulatory flexibility so that all Broadcasters especially the smaller businesses can be helped to get back on track. IBF has also requested the Government for a reduction in GST rate on Digital services (B2C), automatic refund of input credit and immediate processing and issuance of Lower withholding order (LTDS).”N P Singh, President-IBF
IBF has stated that the broadcasting business has been hit on both the demand and supply side which has led to cash flow problems and resulted in an existential crisis for many IBF members. The delay in payment by BOC and advertisers running in several hundreds of crores has further compounded the issues.
It further noted that commute restrictions and production schedule halts had posed a challenge to broadcasters in providing uninterrupted entertainment. NP Singh further said that the IBF had submitted a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on prevention/safety measures for organized, safe, and sustainable re-start of operations in the TV broadcast sector.
It further said that district level administration was not heeding to MHA directions making things harder for employees involved in the day to- day operations of the broadcasting industry.