The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) has urged the Centre to waive the fees for news channels on DD Free Dish platform for March and April in view of the the coronavirus outbreak. The lockdown measures have severely impacted cash flows due to lower collection of payments since clients have scaled down their business operations, the NBF said.
“At the same time, the operating costs on connectivity and communications have tremendously increased due to the lockdowns while ensuring the safety of employees,” the NBF said. To overcome the financial impact, the NBF requested the government to relax and offer tax concessions including lowering GST rates and filing dates, postponing the deadline for TDS payments, for at least a minimum period of three months, until June 30.
The federation also asked the government to waive the fees for news channels on DD Free Dish platform for March and April. The DD Free Dish DTH platform is owned and operated by Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan) and has a base of 30 million households across India.
The NBF also sought extension in deadlines for compliance, since employees handling regulatory issues are currently working from home. In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Ministers Office, Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, GST Council, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and Department of Telecommunications, the NBF, sought the government intervention to combat the financial and business impact on the news broadcasting sector.
“The NBF strongly stands and supports the government’s proactive measures to combat spread of COVID-19 virus, which has posed a health and economic threat to the country,” said Arnab Goswami, president, NBF. “This extraordinary situation required the government to take extraordinary measures to save the news broadcasting sector that performs a public service for free. Else, we perish,” he added.
The news broadcasters are facing slowdown of business operations and severe shortfall revenue as it has curtailed the flow of advertisement which is the largest source of revenue for FTA news broadcasters, according to a statement by NBF. The NBF sought the immediate intervention of the Centre to overcome the larger “economic, social, financial and business impact” arising out of the combat measures and lockdown initiatives across the country that threaten the survival of the news television channels.