From Pixels To Policy: Budget 2024 Through The Lens Of Entertainment

This interim budget was not just about numbers, it was about scripting a bold narrative for India's entertainment industry, says Gandhi

India's media and entertainment industry, already a vibrant digital heavyweight, stands poised for a leap. Buoyed by the recent hosting of the G20 summit and the Cricket World Cup fervour, this sector now craves a clear roadmap. The recent interim budget 2024 laid the groundwork with a very macro approach—a mature non-appeasement budget.

The 6 per cent relief in corporate tax will drive immense consumption, benefiting a lot of MSMEs and startups in the entertainment space and laying the groundwork for sustained economic growth.

Think about it: the media and entertainment industry is projected to reach $100 bn by 2030. We're the world's second-biggest digital media consumers. The internet has democratised access, but the union budget can address certain challenges for this industry's sustained growth. For example, robust and accessible infrastructure with affordable, high-speed internet propelled by 5G across the country is crucial.

Budgetary allocations for cutting-edge anti-piracy technology and stricter enforcement mechanisms would be a welcome move, ensuring fair returns for filmmakers and OTT platforms, thus fostering a healthy creative ecosystem.

The union budget in July 2024 could also help augment the AVGC sector with a target growth rate of around 5 per cent in a year, close to a $40 bn opportunity. The industry, supported by skill development infrastructure and initiatives, could help create around 1,60,000 jobs across the nation. For example, Karnataka's KITVEN initiative is already facilitating over 30,000 jobs in the AVGC sector.

It could be a similar approach to initiatives like Aadhaar, UPI, DigiLocker, and a robust digital tech stack that has opened unprecedented global avenues for exporting India’s tech prowess.

Furthermore, the influencers—our digital storytellers, particularly the micro-influencers in tier-II and tier-III cities—are cultural catalysts. Simplifying their tax landscape and offering regulatory relaxations could leverage the talent of 50 lakh micro and macro ‘people of influence’ in the country.

And let's not underestimate the vision of ‘Make AI in India, Make AI work for India’. The three AI centres of excellence announced in the previous budget can act as a blueprint for investment allocations in this budget. Furthermore, transparent frameworks and user privacy regulations in AI can empower ethical innovation, positioning India as a transformative leader.

This interim budget was not just about numbers, it was about scripting a bold narrative for India's entertainment industry.

(The author is Shrenik Gandhi, co-Founder and CEO, White Rivers Media)

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