Editors’ Forum on Digital Newsportal seeks tax-free internet for news portals

DHAKA: Editors’ Forum on Digital Newsportal (EFDN) has demanded a tax-free access to the internet for the country’s digital news portals.

The organization pressed the demand, sending letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday.

EFDN wanted to see its reflection in the upcoming budget.

Alamgir Hossain, convener of EFDN, and also the Editor-in-Chief of country’s fastest growing digital news portal banglanews24.com, signed the letter.

Alongside the use of tax-free bandwidth, the letter demanded the government to provide regular public advertisements and supplements for digital news portals.

A similar letter has also been sent to the chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR). The demands have also been circulated in the form of a statement to different national media houses.

According to the forum the news portals, which use at least 50 terabytes (1 terabyte = 1,024 GB) bandwidth, produce 60 percent own contents and have at least 25 employees, will deserve government benefits.

Alamgir Hossain said the government supports to import newsprint at an affordable price has been there for many years for the print media.

As it is the time for digital media, the new phenomenon of news media now deserves government patronization, he underscored.

He demanded the advertisements and other value added services of digital news portals to be free from value-added tax (VAT) and advance income tax (AIT).

He also sought VAT exemption for the mobile phone operators which have introduced 3G services to ensure the smooth speed of digital news portal.

Referring to the information provided in the report of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) published in April 2015, banglanews Editor-in-Chief Alamgir Hossain said, 3.43 crore people in the country are now using Internet that is more than 21 percent of the total population.

He said the number of internet users is one of the indicators that show Bangladesh as one of the top advancing countries in the world.

Alamgir Hossain said digital media is now moving forward to keep pace with the speed of internet users in the country. The first digital new sportal has already crossed one decade of its journey.

According to him, a leading digital new sportal attracts 1.5 crore readers everyday. This number is increasing day by day. In these circumstances, it is time to get special attention of the government to this digital media.

If digital new sportals receive assurance of government patronization, it will be possible to provide more information services than that of the current period, the EFDN convener hoped.

He also hoped that the EFDN wants to see the reflection in the upcoming budget in this connection.


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