India urged to re-think move towards communications services
Hong Kong – The government of India must begin treating DTH and cable TV suppliers as a mass market communications providers rather than a luxury sector, and adjust tax levels appropriately, the CASBAA India Satellite Industry Forum in New Delhi noted. “With 120 million multichannel TV viewers including 30 million DTH subscribers, India is the one most exciting growth opportunities in the world,” said Simon Twiston Davies, CEO of CASBAA. “However there remain some massive challenges that need to be surmounted before India can take its place at the forefront of the global market. A backward-looking government approach to Indian pay-TV and other communications services is one of the biggest problems.” Taxation was a hot topic, with levies on DTH operators now standing at 35 percent – an unheard-of burden for an entertainment product that is an everyday experience for hundreds of millions of Indians. Investment restrictions and retail price caps were also highlighted as crucial impediments to growth. It was pointed out that the cable sector doesn’t face many of the same controls and tax enforcement of the cable sector is weak because of the structural under-declaration of subscriber numbers both to government and broadcasters alike. “Time and again we heard that companies are hard pressed to make money in the content industry thanks to regulatory constraints, under-declaration, high carriage fees and rising costs,” said Twiston Davies.
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