FICCI Frames, the largest media and entertainment convention in Asia, is all set to provoke new discussions on India’s entertainment industry. This global Convention has been highlighting India’s role in the international media and entertainment business over the years, and the opportunities that the Indian industry throws for players in this domain. This year, the Convention is being held in Mumbai from March 25-27. FICCI Frames is one of the most-awaited events in organiser FICCI’s calendar. Established in 1927 to garner support for India’s independence and to further the interests of the Indian business community, FICCI started out with a membership of 24 in 1927, and grew to over 3,000 members by the turn of the century.
The Chairman of the Convention is Yash Chopra, Chairman, Yashraj Films, while the Co-Chairman is Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Sony Entertainment Television India. FICCI officials are expecting over 2,000 Indian and around 500 foreign delegates, encompassing the entire universe of media and entertainment to attend the Convention this year. Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, will inaugurate the event. Following this, the sessions, spread across the three days, would be covering the entire gamut of media and entertainment like films, TV, broadcast, digital entertainment, animation, gaming, visual effects and radio, and would be split into six different tracks.
In the past years, Frames had been strongly supported by the Government of India and other agencies and associations. It has seen country-specific business delegations, research reports on entertainment industry, financing options and legal framework.
Kunal Dasgupta said, “We are extremely happy with the growth of the entertainment sector. However, the media has to sit up and take notice of the bottlenecks it faces, especially by externalities, including the Government interface. Frames is an excellent platform to take stock of these things. The real challenge, I feel, is to ensure that the system is fair to each and everybody.”
The Regulars at Frames
Every year FICCI Frames partners with a country. Yash Chopra explained, “The reason to partner with one country is to be able to explore different kinds of relations that we can work together with that country for the entertainment business, and to be able to present the opportunities that India has.” This year, Switzerland is the partner country. Statistics show that on an average, 25 Bollywood movies are shot in the locales there. Interestingly, India had signed her first ever Treaty of Friendship with Switzerland way back in 1948. A delegation from the country is expected to be at the event to take the various industry stakeholders through the entertainment business opportunities at Switzerland.
The FICCI-PWC Report would be unveiled on the first day of the convention. The FICCI BAF Awards that rewards the best in the animation domain promises to be bigger this year. The Awards would take place on March 26, 2008. This year, veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi would be honoured with the ‘FICCI Living Legend in Entertainment’ Awards. Last year, this Award was presented to Kamal Hassan and Rekha.
Some subjects under the scanner in 2008
FICCI Frames sessions would look at the various legs of the media and entertainment industry. In addition to domains like radio, out-of-home would also be discussed at the event this year. One of the sessions at the event, ‘Blockbuster Growth: Indian entertainment, what will make the boom bigger?’, will take a look at the rapidly growing Indian entertainment sector. This session would talk to industry and celebrity stalwarts to find out how the Indian entertainment sector could truly achieve and sustain blockbuster growth.
Another session, ‘Is News Entertainment: changing face of television news in India’, would speak on the mushrooming of several news channels in the last few years, and how the very concept of news delivery and content had changed to the extent that there was now a thin line between news and entertainment channels. This session would discuss the present scenario of ‘news’ and future trends. The ‘Resurgence of Language Media’ would also come under the scanner. This session would explore the dynamics, current growth and future potential of the language media channels across India, that is, print and electronic forms.
Indian television content is going through major changes, from ‘Kyunki….’ to ‘Indian Idol’, from ‘KBC’ to ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ and ‘Big Brother’, content is constantly redefining itself. Do we see TV channels falling absolutely into niche segments in the coming year? What would be the future trends of content for Indian television?
‘The Opening Weekend: How to get the audiences in?’ will deliberate on why the era of a film being a Golden Jubilee or a Silver Jubilee success has become very rare. With multiple distribution, marketing tie-ups with print, radio, television, Internet, etc. available, a good opening weekend becomes critical for the success of the movie. How does one ensure that a film opens to a houseful audience the first day at the first show?
There never was a dearth of talent or content in Indian regional cinema. The only problem was language, but nowadays, that has been solved too by skilful dubbing. FICCI Frames would also delve on why regional cinema still continues to trail behind Hindi films, largely due to of lack of finance, marketing and distribution. What is the way forward? Another session would be on ‘Rethinking Film Marketing & Distribution: Beyond the Box Office’. Nowadays, the success of a film is not defined just through box office collections in theatres and multiplexes. These sessions observe that there are many more and varied avenues like merchandising, Internet, ring tones and wallpaper downloads, streaming videos, mobile downloads, etc. In this era of digitalisation, film marketing and distribution is getting re-defined.
FICCI Frames officials explained that digital cinema in India was expected to change the face of the century-old cinema business just as Internet (e-mail) and mobile phones changed the face of communication. Not only are computer graphic imaging or 3D animation picking up, film content itself is going digital with more graphics and visual effects. Digital cinema envisages providing a high definition cinematic experience using computer servers, telecom and satellite technology. Digital cinema will help curb piracy as digital prints are less prone to illegal duplication and are also cheaper. Frames intends to look closely at the dynamics of this medium.
Gaming will also be discussed. A top line review of the gaming sector, including key growth factors, valuation, mergers and acquisitions, fundraising, future trends, and opportunities would be presented. The review will include PC and console gaming, mobile gaming, online gaming, in-game advertising and aggregators/distributors. The media choices in the expanding universe would also see discussions at Frames. The speakers on this topic would discuss the various challenges and opportunities in the broadcast sector due to the exit of analog and entry of digital TV options like IPTV, HDTV, set-top boxes, DTH, digital video recorders (DVRs), video-on-demand (VOD), wireless devices, broadband video and Internet TV on the future horizon of television. Frames would answer questions like how are consumers, broadcasters and cable companies responding to the introduction of these new technologies?, Which technologies and services will have the greatest impact on the future of television?
OOH continues to be the second fastest growing media sector after digital. The category’s continued strength owes to the explosive technological advancement, digital outdoor media proliferation and fragmentation of other mass media. From pasteless posters, energy-saving bulbs, and digital billboards to the fast-improving audience measurement techniques, the OOH industry is poised to be the most vibrant in the next decade. This forum looks at the present and future potential of OOH in India and some impeding concerns it faces.
Another interesting discussion would be on sports marketing under the topic ‘Sports: The big entertainment options’. Sports are increasingly shaping new forms of entertainment content. Niche channels on sports are drawing more eyeballs than the daily soaps. Movies on sports like ‘Lagaan’, ‘Iqbal’, Chak De! India’, etc., have tasted box office success. They have caught the attention of the nation and media buyers too. The session would discuss the potential of sports as a genre and how it has the capability of driving the growth of entertainment segment, be it films, television, radio or print.
Some other burning issues tackled
One of the biggest arguments against the digital medium has been the lack of revenues in this medium. In the session ‘Mobile Entertainment: Opportunities in emerging business models’, the emerging trends of mobile advertising would be discussed. OEM-managed services, bundled content on devices and open DRM, would drive new business models and opportunities for all stakeholders. The revenue streams in animation would also see deliberations. FICCI officials explained, “The Indian animation industry has grown over the years. Animation companies say growth in the outsourcing model has begun to plateau, hence, many companies today are working on creating their own intellectual property.” What’s the real future of entertainment, user-generated media or traditional media? Blogging and social networking worlds have become the new ‘major media networks’. Are these fads or the future of our collective lives? Frames will explore the power of online media platforms.
Film commissioners and representatives from around the world would discuss incentives available in their countries for filmmakers seeking co-productions. This year, Frames will have a session on the ‘Talent Crunch in the Media & Entertainment Industry’. Despite the growth and the potential, India still feels the pinch and lack of trained and skilled human resources and talent. Where are we going wrong and what is the way out? Frames would also speak on ‘Is media and entertainment socially responsible: where does freedom of speech and expression end and social responsibility begin?’
Summing it up, Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance Entertainment, said, “We live in a digital universe where there will be a gradual shift from multi-service networks to multi-network services. The future empires in the media will be empires of the mind. The consumer in this digital universe will be pulled in two directions. The first one is where there is one-on-one-personalised customisation, which comes through large-scale events like the Cricket World Cup or the Olympics. However, talent will always be at a premium in India. We must also be careful of over-regulation.”