Interim Budget 2019 proposes two key measures for film industry

MUMBAI: The media & entertainment (M&E) industry has welcomed Finance minister Piyush Goyal’s decision to provide single-window clearance to Indian filmmakers apart from strengthening the regulatory provisions to combat piracy.

In his budget speech, Goyal said that the entertainment industry is a major employment generator. To promote the entertainment industry, single window clearance for ease of shooting films, available only to foreigners, is now going to be made available to Indian filmmakers as well.

He also stated that the regulatory provisions will rely more on self-declaration. “We will also introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control the menace of piracy,” he added.

EY India partner, Indirect Tax, Media And Entertainment Utkarsh Sanghvi said that the government has already set up a Film Facilitation Office (FFO) for enabling a single window clearance for foreign film companies shooting in India. The same benefit will now entail to Indian film-makers. He also noted that most of the permissions required from Central and State Government agencies are expected to be received from a single online application.

“From January 2019, GST rate on film tickets costing less than Rs 100 was reduced to 12% from 18% and tickets costing more than Rs 100 was reduced to 18% from 28%. The art and cultural champion services sector was positively recognised by GST Council by reclassifying the entertainment service from luxury and sin bracket of taxation to standard rate schedule,” he added.

KPMG in India Partner and Head, Media and Entertainment Girish Menon said that the greatest impact of the bidget on the M&E industry is likely to be from the continued push towards equitable and universal digitisation for Indians rather than from any direct incentive, coupled with announcement of 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years which will accelerate the process of digitisation in the country.”

Viacom18 group CEO, MD Sudhanshu Vats said that the provision of single window clearance for films will give a fillip to the Indian entertainment industry.

“Such policy provisions that seek to enhance ease of doing business will help the Rs 156 billion industry grow at a faster clip. I also welcome the move to include anti-camcording provisions as part of the Cinematography Act. This will ensure that in-theatre pirated recordings now become a penal offense and will act as a strong deterrent to piracy,” he stated

Dharma Productions CEO Apoorva Mehta said that the provision of single window clearance for filmmakers will streamline and simplify procedures and permissions. “This will not only make it simple for domestic productions, but foreign filmmakers as well, hence improving the media landscape.”

Mehta also stated that the Anti-camcording provision comes as a boon to the industry which has been fighting piracy all these years and suffering huge losses in the process. “Lastly, a step in the right direction with regards to a national centre for artificial intelligence will only lead into companies implementing these modern technologies into their products. When we look at the bigger picture, the customer experience is only going to improve going by these recent announcements,” he noted.

Observing the positive changes on the budget, UFO Moviez CEO Indian Operations Rajesh Mishra said, “We believe that this is a great move for the Indian film industry. We welcome the government’s initiative, to introduce the anti-camcording provision as part of the Cinematograph Act to fight against piracy. This will give teeth to the law to take stringent action against the offender. UFO Moviez digital cinema systems provide watermarking in each cinema wherein the system creates a unique fingerprint when projecting the digital movie on the screen in a non-intrusive manner.

“Using this technology security feature, it is possible to trace, from a pirated CD or DVD, the name and location of the theatre where the film was illegally videographed, along with other co-ordinates like time, date, etc., thus, helping to crack down on piracy. We are sure this a very pragmatic step ahead by the government and will ensure the reduction of losses the film industry incurs.”

MX Player CEO Karan Bedi said, “The Union Budget’s provision for a single clearance window for Indian filmmakers would come as a welcome and positive step to film producers & movie studios across the country. The amendments in the Anti Camcording provisions would also complement the industry’s efforts to snub illegal movie recordings in theatres and encourage the consumption of original content. At MX Player, we are empowering independent film studios to produce unparalleled regional content to cater to the Indian masses, and this Budget would go a long way in helping us entertain audiences with more exciting MX Originals.”

Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal added, “We are extremely positive about the implication of the proposed budget and strongly believe in the Digital Revolution introduced by the government. The increased consumption of mobile data in the last five years has paved way for the streaming market in India. It will impact the mobile streaming industry in multiple ways, mainly by strengthening penetration in tier II and tier III markets while also increasing exposure among a new set of a potential user base. Enhancing stickiness for the app and encouraging trials, the vision for Digital India will help Music Streaming apps attain its full potential in the online music space. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence coupled with Big Data will help bridge the gap between demand and supply through insightful analysis of evolving consumer preferences.”

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