Completely Clueless

July 20, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s media minister Thursday indicated that his ministry has not been consulted before a controversial tax on television stations airing foreign content, was implemented. “It is a decision under the Finance Act. We are just the implementing authority,” minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told reporters.

From July 16, all television stations airing Hollywood, Bollywood movies, serials, dramas and blockbusters are taxed with funds channeled to promote the ailing local cinema industry.

A 30-minute segment aired on television now costs 75,000 rupees, while those dubbed in the native Sinhala or Tamil language are charged 90,000 rupees for every half an hour block.

Reporters told Yapa that the tax was lopsided, as dubbed programmes contain a certain value added component, and hence should be taxed at a lower slab.

“That’s a good point. I will pass it onto treasury officials,” Yapa said.

The tax also covers advertisements made overseas and shown on local television stations. Commercials now cost 1-million rupees each annually, and the additional costs have to be borne by broadcasters.

Local firms have been outsourcing their promotional work to India