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I&B bats for reduction in FBT for media firms
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Reduction in the fringe benefit tax (FBT) from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for media personnel working for both print and electronic media companies was among the demands submitted to the finance ministry today by Ambika Soni, the minister for information and broadcasting (I&B).

“I have requested the finance minister to reduce the FBT levied on expenses made by journalists in both print and electronic media and bring it to the level of 5 per cent from the current 20 per cent,” Soni said.

Soni also requested the finance minister to bring down special additional duty (SAD) and countervailing duty (CVD) on digital set-top boxes to 0 per cent for at least a period of five years.

“Digitalisation is the future of the broadcasting sector. I have asked for a reduction of duties on digital set-top boxes for both DTH and digital cable to 0 per cent, at least for the next five years,” Soni told reporters after her meeting with Pranab Mukherjee.

Currently, SAD and CVD on set-top boxes are 4 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

On the issue of increasing the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in various sub-sectors within media, Soni said: “We will take some decision on it soon. We have worked out this aspect as per TRAI’s recommendations. We have to discuss this matter with some other ministries like home affairs, as there are some reservations in certain segments like radio. But I have given the breakup of FDI limits in various segments to the finance minister.”

Soni also pushed for a 10-year tax holiday for the gaming, animation and the VFX (visual effects) industry, as they were emerging sectors. The minister also had a discussion on the issue of Goods and Service Tax (GST).

Broadcasters had suggested to the minister last week that, for FM radio, cable services and DTH operators, service tax, entertainment tax and VAT may be subsumed in GST and only a single unified GST rate be notified for these services.

The minister also put forward before the FM, the proposal of treating broadcasting, DTH and cable services as part of infrastructure industry for their rapid expansion.

Delegations of print media, broadcasters and small and medium newspaper owners had met Soni last week, and had put forward their proposals and requests before her. The minister took up their proposals with the FM for the forthcoming Union Budget.

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