Import licence rules upsets TV makers' festive season plans, thousands of imported TVs stuck at ports

KOLKATA: More than 21,000 largescreen television sets are stuck at India’s ports with leading manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony and TCL yet to get the import licences that they now need, three industry executives said.

Most of them, about 17,000, are sets of 55 inches and above imported by Samsung India, the country’s largest television brand by market share, they said. The company currently imports around 35% of what it sells in India.

The government re-introduced import curbs on TV sets on July 30, putting them on the restricted list for the first time in 20 years with the objective of boosting local manufacturing as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) programme.

Companies had to seek a licence to import televisions with immediate effect. Companies such as Samsung, Sony and TCL have applied for licences but industry executives said there isn’t much clarity about when they will get them.


About 35% of television sets sold in the country are imported. Industry executives said this has upset the inventory planning of brands for the festive season, while retailers said stocks are running out. There’s a shortage of Samsung, LG and Sony sets of 55 inches and above with no visibility on availability, said Nilesh Gupta, director of Vijay Sales, a leading electronics retail chain in Mumbai and New Delhi.
Sony India television business head Ranvijay Singh said its licence application is being processed. He declined to comment on stock getting stuck at ports but said about 99% of Sony televisions are made in India and the company is fully geared up for the festive season.

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TCL India general manager Mike Chen said it’s waiting for a response on its licence application. He said the company has planned domestic assembly of sets following the notification and has put together local factory partnerships to meet customer demand with enough supplies during the festive season.

Samsung and LG India didn’t respond to queries. A senior industry executive said getting licences may not be easy. “This kind of overnight notification has upset our plans. Shifting production is not possible at such short notice and for premium models it makes no sense since the market is still small,” he said.

Meanwhile, 32-43 inch television sets have also been hit because of a global shortage of panels.

“Panel prices have gone up too, but unless the supply situation of panels improves, television availability and shortage will aggravate by Diwali,” said Lloyd CEO Shashi Arora. According to industry estimates, 55-inch plus TV sets, which are priced at over Rs 1 lakh, account for around 15-20% of the Rs 25,000 crore Indian TV market.

The big companies mostly import these units, while manufacturing the rest locally. In addition, some smaller, online focused brands, as well as Chinese companies import their entire portfolio.



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