Local television channels yesterday recommended user tax on foreign channels with the aim to create a level-playing field and boost the government coffers.
The proposal was made by a delegation of the Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) during a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at his secretariat office.
The association's leaders said the foreign TV channels particularly the Indian ones have a large audience in both urban and rural areas. They do not have to pay anything, whereas the local TV channels are subjected to a host of taxes by the government.
Housewives will view foreign channels even with taxes, which will increase government revenues, they said.
The TV channel owners complained that the neighbouring country does not allow airing of Bangladeshi channels but Indian stations have occupied the Bangladeshi market and promoting their goods through ads.
Although in support of the proposal, Muhith did not specify if such a tax would be imposed.
The ATCO leaders also presented their various tax-related problems to the finance minister: the most notable is the harassment faced in the hands of the National Board of Revenue over value-added tax.
Television station owners also suggested digitisation of the local satellite channels, as they would not have to depend on advertisement for survival then.
About the demand for reducing tax, the finance minister said the truncated tax will no more exist; the VAT rates will be a uniform 15 percent by 2015.
The finance minister asked the TV channel owners to give their demands in writing, following which he would hold discussions with the stakeholders.
ATCO President Mosaddak Ali led the delegation that included General Secretary Shykh Seraj.