July 6, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has slapped a controversial tax on foreign commercials, Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, dramas and sitcoms from July 1, with funds collected ploughed back to develop the local film industry. The taxes range from 90,000 rupees for a 30 minute dubbed episode to a million rupees for each foreign commercial aired on local television channels.
“Its not a revenue enhancing measure, merely a policy directive to develop the local film industry, artistes are are now unable to showcase their talents because television stations are airing a lot of foreign content,” treasury secretary P B Jayasundara told journalists Thursday.
The tax exempts Tamil language content as Sri Lanka produces very little of these programmes, explained Asoka Serasinghe, Chairman of the National Film Corporation.
“The tax is minute for station owners. For instance around 57 films are shown each week on television with nearly 50 of them being foreign,” Serasinghe said.
In contrast, Serasinghe says, nearly 300 locally produced dramas are languishing on the shelves due to lack of airtime on television channels.
Jayasinghe said the tax was not a communal or racial issue, as authorities have exempted all do