The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Tuesday urged the government to reduce GST on media advertisements to 5% from 18% right now. This will bring its GST at par with the print media thus helping broadcasting sector deal with the major disruption brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the NBA said “Advertisements are an integral and essential part of the business and the main source of revenue for the news broadcasters, which has come under severe pressure during this pandemic/lock down”.
The association pointed out that the advertising agencies were pressuring broadcasters to defer the due payments and asking for more time over and above the 60 days credit period. The biggest concern of the news broadcasters was collections and facing a period of negligible income in the next 30-90 days. Also worrying is that fact that ad bookings are falling.
“While the news broadcasters are coping with the financial problems of recovery of dues, we are also faced with serious problems of advertising inventory/ release orders being cancelled and inventory bookings being less than 50% for even the top-rated news channels,” NBA wrote.
Poor recovery and lack of future income would mean that the news broadcasters would have to weather the storm for two or three quarters and hope for a partial recovery towards the end of the financial year, he said in the letter.
In its letter, NBA also said that in order to ensure social distancing norms and to ensure the safety of the editorial personnel, the news broadcasters have taken various steps including making alternate arrangements within and outside the premises for news gathering and reporting purposes. This has resulted in the operating costs of news broadcasters during the current pandemic having gone up exponentially,” the association said.
Therefore as a part of financial stimulus, NBA has urged government to give an important GST relief to boost its operating income in the testing times.
Earlier, NBA had written a letter to ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), seeing deferment of the carriage fee payments due to Prasar Bharati for Free Dish on March 31st till July 2020, and a concession of 90 days on the carriage amount of Free Dish.