Govt’s initiatives for M&E sector draws applause from media honchos

MUMBAI: The media & entertainment (M&E) industry has welcomed the government’s stated plans to open up foreign direct investment (FDI) in the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry and start a new TV programme for startups under the Doordarshan umbrella.

TV ratings measurement body BARC India CEO Partho Dasgupta has said that the impact of allowing FDI in media sector needs to be examined. “One will have to carefully look at the impact of allowing FDI in the media sector. We are happy as BARC India, for the impetus given to start-ups which will further propel efforts of the overall industry on innovation and digitisation.”

He also said that the budget will boost long term economic growth. “Today’s budget directionally augurs well for boosting long-term economic growth by focus shown on infrastructure improvements, strengthening benefits to MSME sector and investments on improved skill sets of human recourses. Steps taken to attract investments by relaxing FDI, FPI and NRI norms, coupled with boosting public sector banks and NBFC, will trigger the much-desired credit boost.”

Dentsu Aegis Network CEO Greater South and Chairman & CEO India Ashish Bhasin said that the budget is more inclusive and is focused towards providing a better lifestyle to the common man. “From providing better access to toilets, better connectivity by roads and digitally, to promoting the ease of living, this year the budget actually showcases a lot of good stuff. The government’s decision to examine the opening up of foreign direct investment (FDI) in media, is beneficial for the sector,” Bhasin said.

He further added that some of the actions of the government do seem contradictory and a letdown. “The expectations from a government coming with such a majority was that they would undertake substantial reforms, stimulate growth and cut tax rates. However, they have missed the opportunity to do so and have acted contradictorily by implementing surcharge on HNI individuals. Despite everything I expect the next 10 years to be very bright for India.”

ABP News Network CEO Avinash Pandey said, “The proposal to ease FDI norms for the media industry has come at an opportune time. It will allow us to invest in digital assets, upgrade technology and human skill enhancement. The transponder based model of all media and definitely for news media is changing. No longer will we need to uplink our signals to satellites and then down link on the basis of a transponder so the leasing of transponders and satellites will become history.

“Instead, we will have internet based TV which means app based TV. This has already started. It will enable TV channels to become global very quickly, by eliminating the cost of transponders, satellite tv stations can become global by investing in hiring more people, having international bureaus and becoming international stations. All this needs vision and investors. This will help the Indian media and entertainment industry to move to the next level and even aspire to become a global content hub. The cost of becoming global will benefit from the new investment that this budget has allowed. From a News Broadcaster’s perspective, it is now possible to envision a scenario when an Indian player can go international like the CNN, the BBC and the CGTN.”

Technicolor India country head Biren Ghose said, “Congrats to @NSitaraman – FDI has already been a turbocharger for Indian media in broadcasting and production of animation services. This has created value and growth helping to scale content creation from and for India. The new impetus will help scale skills for Animation.”

Times Internet CEO Gautam Sinha said, “The government’s progressive steps in opening up FDI further in the media, tax benefits for corporate taxpayers and annual meet to get Industrialists, corporate leaders and venture funds on the same table would offer significant impetus to the private sector. We are hopeful these measures along with efforts to improve the skills of our youth in newer areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics, etc will trigger a virtuous cycle of investment and consumption that will catapult us towards becoming a $5 trillion economy.”

GoQuest Media Ventures MD Vivek Lath said, “The easing of Angel Tax is a very positive measure by the government. The Startup community is at the forefront of innovation in this country and across the world. Angel Tax was becoming a draconian issue and was stifling innovation at its stem. There is more investment chasing the media and entertainment sector today than ever before. It is important we encourage this investment and not penalize the entrepreneurs and investors for contributing to the economy.”

MX Player CEO Karan Bedi said, “The government’s steps in opening up FDI further in the media and entertainment sector would help boost media entrepreneurs as well as talent. MX Player’s growth strategy is based on creating premium original content for the larger Indian audience, and the expansion of Bharat Net would offer a great opportunity to OTT platforms like ours to reach a vibrant & diverse audience beyond the metros and tier I cities.”

Worldwide Media CEO Deepak Lamba said, “The current budget is well and truly encouraging. The opening up of FDI in the media and entertainment sector is a welcoming and promising initiative. This is a big step for content creators like us, for it now opens up a host of different avenues for the digital world. It’s a budget that the Digital Entertainment Industry will certainly benefit from this. The growth of India’s FDI inflows for 2018-19 was a resounding 6 percent increase compared to last year will have a positive impact for all players across sectors in the long run.”

Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal said, “This Budget, we are particularly excited about the potential of Bharat Net in facilitating free access to digital-first services like governance, education, banking and entertainment across rural India. As every panchayat in the country gets internet connectivity, it will make way for an entire generation of digitally literate citizens who live better lives and create a vibrant market for internet entrepreneurs & businesses.”

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