By Utpal Borpujari
The film industry could expect some sops in the 2009-10 Union Budget, including rationalisation of customs duty on raw stock, according to indications.
Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, in a pre-Budget presentation pertaining to her ministry before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday, brought up issues relating the film industry too.
“There are two-three proposals that we have mentioned before the Finance Minister, including the need to tackle film piracy, rationalisation of customs duty, and digitalisation and archives,” Soni said during an informal chat with reporters here on Friday.
“I told the Finance Minister that the desire of Bollywood is to equal Hollywood, which is why the film sector needs all the support,” she said.
Recalling her experience as the Culture Minister in the previous UPA government, Soni said that “everybody” in the world wants to have Bollywood films in their respective countries.
Soni also said that her ministry would take forward the idea of a special cell in PMO to promote Indian cinema, which Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had reportedly promised to set up during a meeting with producer Mukesh Bhatt.
Electronic media: Asked about the reported plans to regulate the electronic media in the light of strong reaction to the coverage of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Soni indicated that the government would prefer that the sector exercise self-regulation.
“There have been calls from different parts of the country on restraining the electronic media…the Prime Minister has already said that we don’t need to put anything to impose regulation (on the electronic media), and that holds good,” she said.
Representatives of the News Broadcasters Association and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation met her on Thursday and assured her about practising self-regulation, and “I think that is a very good thing, and we will cooperate in every possible way”, she said.
While she admitted that there was no single authority to brief the visual media during the Mumbai attacks, “because of which they showed what they got”, and also that it was virtually impossible to have one person with access to all government information during such crisis, she said her ministry was trying to put in place a workable mechanism to help the media in such scenarios.