GUWAHATI, July 17 - Expressing discontentment at the State government�s decision to increase the Amusement and Betting Tax (A&BT), the Cable TV Operators Forum of Assam (COFA) has demanded a tax holiday up to 2018 in view of the excessive burden on them due to transition from analog to digital.
The cable operators sought immediate intervention of the State government to resolve the issues of the ailing cable TV industry involving thousands of local educated unemployed youths.
�We are small entrepreneurs who have invested at our own risk without any government assistance. The cable operators shall be compelled to resort to democratic protest on failure of the government to roll back the tax increase along with settlement of the above issues,� said the Forum.
The COFA on Saturday convened a meeting of representatives of various multi-system operators, local cable operators and cable operators� associations to discuss the A&BT tax hike from Rs 10 to Rs 20 per subscriber per month.
The Forum criticized the State government for considering the cable TV industry as an avenue to collect taxes, without taking any responsibility to protect the industry and the operators.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, has mandated compulsory digitization of cable network by declaring closure of analog system throughout India before December 31, 2016, in four phases.
The areas under municipality and town committees of Assam fall under phase III, with the deadline being December 31, 2015. The remaining areas of Assam and other parts of the country are covered under phase IV, to be digitized on or before December 31, 2016.
Alleging dereliction of duty on the part of the officers responsible for rules and regulation pertaining to the cable TV industry, the Forum asked the government take action in this regard.
The Forum also demanded government assistance in creating adequate infrastructure for the operators, including the use of government�s optical fibre network.