The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has sought government support to deal with the crisis in the television broadcast sector as a result of the covid-19 outbreak in the country.
In its letter to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, the IBF, a not-for-profit body representing the interests of television broadcasters in India, has made requests for regulatory moratorium for the sector for at least the next 18 months, phased resumption of production activities, extension of moratorium period for goods and services tax (GST) payment, mandating digital payments of subscription and advertising dues to broadcasters, increase in time period for operationalization of new channels which have been granted permission from one to two years, waiver of carriage fee due to state broadcaster Prasar Bharati for the three months of April, May and June for free-to-air channels on Prasar Bharati’s Free Dish platform, among other things.
“The outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have posed several challenges for the television broadcast sector. With complete cessation of production of television shows, cancellations of live sporting events and scheduled advertisements, advertisement bookings nosediving by 50%; delays in payments by advertising agencies and distribution platform operators, the broadcast sector is facing the brunt of the slowdown,” NP Singh, the IBF president, said in a statement.
The statement adds that the broadcasting business has been hit both on the demand and supply side, which has not only led to cash flow problems but has also resulted in existential crisis for many of IBF’s members.
Further, the directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs have not percolated to district-level officers, as a result of which employees involved in the day-to-day operations of the broadcasting industry are facing problems in commuting to their workplace.