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Streaming sites evade revenue by flouting regulations

Published : 19 Feb 2021 09:39 PM | Updated : 20 Feb 2021 02:05 AM

The government is losing huge revenue every month as a good number of local and foreign video streaming sites are continuing their business without regulations.

Besides this revenue-evading act, these digital video streaming online sites like Netflix, Hoichoi, Bioscope and Bing are running offensive contents freely, where a viewer with or without money can enjoy a variety of contents. Some of the contents have to be paid for, the rest is free. The ones that appear to be free are packed with ads.

Although the work of formulating the policy has started on the direction of the High Court, it is time consuming, according to concerned officials.

The popularity of these platforms is increasing in Bangladesh like other courtiers. However, in accordance with the rules and regulations these platforms are operating over the top platform (OTT) in other countries.

However, there is no operating guidelines, no control over the content in Bangladesh. Due to lack of legal framework, BTRC or law enforcement agencies are not able to take any action against them.

BTRC Vice Chairman Subrata Roy Maitra said, “We are advising the government to bring those online video streaming sites under the purview of law.”

On the other hand, Supreme Court lawyer Tanvir Ahmed said, “In order to give an institutional form, it has to have a certain set of rules and regulations. However, the High Court has directed to formulate a policy soon.”

Customers have to pay a prescribed subscription fee for these foreign online based channels to get all kinds of entertainment. This leaves a huge amount of money out of the country without any VAT.

The minimum subscription fee for Netflix in the country is US$ 6 per month. According to the law, a 15 percent VAT is supposed to be deducted for each subscription, but for a long time, customers have been taking this service online without paying VAT.

According to VAT intelligence sources, 15 percent VAT was levied on the bills of online streaming sites in the current financial year. But it was not realized as no instructions were given to the commercial banks. The central bank has directed all commercial banks to deduct VAT in the wake of the VAT detective's letter.

Banks have informed the customers who have availed the service and paid their bills through credit cards about Vat. As a result, from now on the customers will have to pay VAT. Netflix's minimum subscriber fee is US$ 6 per month which is equivalent to Tk 680 (per dollar Tk 85).