The ongoing struggle, regarding the entertainment tax, between the Cable Operators & Distributors Association (CODA) and the Maharashtra State government has reached the next level. After postponing the decision to blackout all Hindi, English and Marathi news channels on state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat’s request a couple of weeks ago, the organisation met with him last week.
“He has asked us to give a detailed presentation about the current cable TV scenario in the state, the revenue generation in the current tax regime and also compare it with what will happen when entertainment tax on subscribers and set top boxes will be brought down," confesses Anil Parab.
The Maharashtra regime currently levies entertainment tax on cable TV subscribers at the rate of Rs 45 per sub; CODA has been imploring and lobbying with the government to scale this down to Rs 15 or Rs 20 as is the practice in many other states and cities.
According to Parab, the current rate is too high considering that transparency in the cable TV sector has really gone up and leakages have reduced with the introduction of set top boxes and digitisation. "The only only reason we had agreed to a hike to Rs 45 per sub was because there was under-declaration in the ecosystem and hence a perceived loss to the state exchequer. But with declarations of cable TV subs by cable operators and MSOs more than doubling, rate needs to be brought down as the burden on the industry is crippling us and really hurting our viability," he reveals.
CODA is slated to meet the minister this week and make its presentation. As of now, Delhi’s rate is Rs 20 while in other cities it is less than five per cent. “The current rate is too much. We would be happy with anything between Rs 15 and Rs 20,” says Parab.