Regulatory framework is most certainly the cornerstone of everything that is currently being done, noted Reliance Entertainment’s chairman Amit Khanna, as he addressed the gathering on the regulatory issues and the factors that needed close examination pertaining to the media and entertainment industry.
‘Over Arching Regulation’, which deliberated on the implementation of the Convergence Bill, ‘Ceiling on Direct investment on Cable business and DTH’, which called on the government to review policies, ‘Difficulty to safeguard different areas in Technology’, that dealt with the self-regulation codes of practice, were some of the topics that were discussed at the session.
Highlighting some glaring issues facing the industry, S K Arora, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said, “The objective of any regulatory framework is to ultimately provide the consumers with choice at affordable prices, hence the only way forward for a country like ours is to use a ‘large volume – low margin’ model,” he stated. He went on to highlight the importance of inducing, facilitating and promoting both domestic and international investments.
He stressed on the fact that we needed to leapfrog into progression mode and reach more than a billion people through various platforms. In his specificities on Film, TV and Radio, the emphasis stayed clearly with digitizing the entire medium and bringing it under one converged umbrella of broadcasting.
As Arora began to explore the large number of mobile consumption in the country, he also was under no misconception that the current streaming of media on handsets was minimal. The force exuded on the idea of creating different platforms to reach people was as important as the message that was meant to be communicated, he noted.
Also expressed were the synergies existing between taking India abroad and getting foreign talent and ideology into India. Arora pointed towards the various countries that were in partnership with India, and the popularity and camaraderie that has begun to show fruit.
Remarking on the ongoing argument of censorship, he said. “We have about 150,000 hours of total programming in the past three years of which only 5 to 10 hours were under question. After repeated warnings only was action taken again 4-5 cases,” he asserted.
Ofcom chairman Philip Draft, addressed the issue of regulatory rights over IPO, digitalizing and movies. He also remarked on the consolidation of various media to form greater impact and coherence. “We believe in giving the widest choice to the consumers and are focused completely into the next generation network,” he said.
According to Draft, the price regulation was an important factor as it could in turn deal with emergence of competition, resulting in a wide choice of services for the end consumer.
SET CEO Kunal Dasgupta spoke on the broadcast rights under the regulatory issues. “Today the whole media market is hungry for news in every way. More than the last consumer, it is the people within media who are fighting for more news, making it into a realm of entertainment,” he stated. From his perspective, he is happy with the growth of the entertainment sector, however the medium faces the reality of the existence of certain hurdles.” He pointed towards channels which had to follow the regulatory policies restricting advertising potential.
He also spoke about the fragmentation of niche audiences which demanded certain content directed towards them. However with the existing government policies, focus seemed to be more on news and entertainment, thereby not enabling the consumers to receive content that they desired.
Shardul Shroff, Partner, Amarchand Mangaldas shared the perspective of the convergence and the investment opportunities that it could possibly explore. “I agree whole-heartedly that regulations should be created for businesses, and from that point of view, should form guidelines. Regulatory communication with the legislative is a very complicated process; hence if we want a law to support business, the light should be focused on understanding it.” While he agreed largely on many aspects, he also opposed the regulations that the government placed on technological development. In his view, the decision for the same rests with the Corporates growing these technological developments and not with anyone else.
Shroff took the time off to elaborate on Arora’s point of internationalization. While Arora strongly supported exchange of talent, Shroff favoured of the joining of international forces more on the lines of subsidized taxes as opposed to talent sharing. He drew an analogy by saying that we at least had a foot through the door – giving way to a glorious future ahead.
With all the hype about convergence of media and digitizing, one is anxious to view these opinions being put into practice especially in the broadcast sectors.