NBF seeks govt intervention to overcome the impact of coronavirus on TV news biz

MUMBAI: The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), which mainly represents regional news broadcasters, has requested the government to relax and offer tax concessions including lowering GST rates and filing dates, postponing the deadline for TDS payments, for at least a minimum period of three months, until 30th June.

The federation has also asked the government to waive off the fees for news channels on DD Freedish platform for the month of March and April 2020. The NBF has also sought extension in deadlines for compliance since employees handling regulatory issues are currently working from home.

The NBF has presented the memorandum to the Prime Ministers’ Office, Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, GST Council, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and Department of Telecommunications, seeking government intervention to combat the financial and business impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the news broadcasting sector.

It has sought the immediate intervention of the Government of India, to overcome the larger economic, social, financial and business impact arising out of the combat measures and lockdown initiatives across the country that threatens the survival of the news television channels.

“The News Broadcasters Federation strongly stands and supports the Government of India’s proactive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus, which has posed a health and economic threat to the country. This extraordinary situation required the government to take extraordinary measures to save the news broadcasting sector that performs a public service for free. Else, we perish,” said NBF president Arnab Goswami.

The memorandum comes in the wake of the measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19 virus, the news broadcasters are facing the slowdown of business operations and severe shortfall revenue as it has curtailed the flow of advertisement which is the largest source of revenue for FTA news broadcasters.

The measures have also severely impacted cash flows due to lower collections of payments since clients are also scaled down their business operations. At the same time, the operating costs on connectivity and communications have tremendously increased due to the lockdowns while ensuring the safety of employees.

In a statement, the NBF said that the news broadcasters serve as an influential, public awareness and emergency communications system to get information on the doorsteps of the common citizens across the length and breadth of the country. The 24- hour news cycle is the most contextual and relevant medium to draw public attention to the issues and provide key safety messages in the shortest time to the public at large.

It also noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his televised address to the nation, on 19th March 2020, equated the news broadcasting sector in line with Essential Services, is a crucial acknowledgement of the important role of news broadcasters in rendering public service in such a critical situation which the nation is facing currently.

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