For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
December 2, 2010, 6:49 pm
* Huge black market of 500 illegal satellite TV operators
In the face of a huge black market segment, licensed cable TV operators could end up paying levies amounting to as much as Rs. 10 million a day, if the government goes ahead with plans of extending the Rs. 200,000 levy on imported programmes and Rs. 25,000 on imported films currently applicable to terrestrial TV to the cable TV sector as well.
The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), a think tank, in a preliminary observation on changes to telecommunications sector taxes proposed in the Budget 2011 (published in full in page 8), said licensed cable TV operators were concerned the decision to bring them into the levy system currently imposed on terrestrial TV could lead to further losses.
Terrestrial TV airs only a few hours of imported content for which Rs. 200,000 is levied for each Hindi language programme and Rs. 25,000 per imported film, except for those in Tamil.
The IPS said cable TV operators aired imported content for 24 hours.
“One industry player remarked that the impact of the new tax for their eight 24 hour English movie channels alone would amount to approximately Rs. 2.5 million (Rs. 25,000 per film, per showing). When considering the other English general entertainment channels as well as the Hindi language channels where the tax is Rs. 200,000 per programme, the daily tax would exceed to Rs. 10 million,” the IPS said.
The IPS points out that there is a huge black market in the satellite TV segment with around 100,000 subscribers and 500 illegal operators.
“The licensed cable TV providers are hardly a lucrative source of tax revenue as several of them continue to sustain losses, which is still in an emerging phase,” the IPS said suggesting that unlicensed operators be drawn into the tax net instead.