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Call for uniform entertainment tax

Our Bureau

Visakhapatnam , March 27

THERE is a necessity to bring about parity in entertainment tax across the country in order to encourage the film industry, as at present different States are levying tax at different rates, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, has said.

At a press meet here on Sunday, the Minister said that in some States such as Uttar Pradesh, entertainment tax was as high as 100 per cent and it was much higher in North India (80 per cent or so) than in the rest of the country.

He said the State Information Ministers' conference, to be held in New Delhi on April 16 and 17, would discuss the issue and try evolve a consensus. He said the cine exhibitors were suffering heavily due to video piracy and though there was the Copyright Act to curb the menace, it was not sufficient. "Due to advancement of technology, we need to have a more stringent law which addresses the problem, some sort of a optical disc law," he said.

Mr Jaipal Reddy said the need for a regulatory authority for satellite channels was voiced by many sections of the society due to growing obscenity and therefore the Broadcast Authority Bill, which had been introduced during his earlier stint as I&B Minister, would be reintroduced in the monsoon session. ``We have already cancelled the licence of a channel, Cine World, as it was felt to be excessively vulgar,'' he said.

The Minister, however, allayed apprehensions that it would lead to pre-censorship of the channels. Their independence would not be compromised in any way.

On the DTH, he said at present the DD-DTH platform and a private one were in operation. Two more private companies - Star-Tata and the Sun TV - had applied for DTH and the applications were under consideration. Referring to Star-Tata DTH issue, he confirmed that his Ministry had referred the application to the Company Affairs Ministry seeking certain clarifications.

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