The 9th edition of FICCI Frames opened with quiet dignity on Tuesday morning with renowned flautist Rakesh Chaurasia enthralling the delegates for 15 minutes with a masterly rendition. It was an overflowing house that necessitated the opening of all the three contiguous ballrooms in Mumbai’s Renaissance Hotel. The annual jamboree indeed took off well, and FICCI has mastered the art of managing a gargantuan convention – and it keeps getting bigger every year. One is not sure whether the sessions are the main draw or the immense networking platform that Frames has become over the years.
In his typically earthy style, celebrated filmmaker Yash Chopra, Chairman of FICCI’s Entertainment Committee, made a strong pitch for curbing piracy and streamlining the censorship process. With the Secretary to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Asha Swarup, present, Chopra thundered, “If there is a Censor Board in place -- appointed by the Government -- the arbitrary blocking of a film by the political machinery has to stop.” It is a different matter that the I&B Secretary preferred not to immediately comment on the plea, but the film industry has every right to expect that she would take back notes for the babus in her Ministry to ponder upon.
Seminal ideas, analytical points and some policy issues are a sine qua non for major industry conventions of this scale and stature. FICCI Frames 2008 had its share on the opening day. Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance Entertainment, pointed out that TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had cleared the proposal for allowing news and current affairs programmes on FM radio channels, and requested the I&B Ministry to proactively push through the legislative process to make this a reality soon.
The heartening news of Day 1 was that Swarup declared that the Government was actively studying FICCI’s draft paper on curbing piracy and also promised to take up the TRAI proposal to allow news and current affairs on private radio channels. But she suggested that the industry itself should look at ways of managing the supply side of the M&E industry, like tapping the various delivery options that technology was opening up, to beat the film pirates at their game.
She also touched upon the ratings issue, saying that the Government was struggling with the existing ratings system. She welcomed the move for a new ratings system by IBF, adding “the sooner the better”.
Kunal Dasgupta, Co-Chairman, FICCI Entertainment Committee, and CEO, Sony Entertainment Television, provided an interesting picture of the future of television programmes like “fantasy cricket”, and made an interesting observation about how the film ‘Jab We Met’ had brought about a paradigm shift in the way a film could be marketed. But he was also concerned over the massive growth of TV channels and bemoaned the lack of scale of Indian production houses when compared with global production houses in the US and Europe. Dasgupta’s argument on scale can be seen as an extension of the corporatisation of the film industry that was a theme at last year’s Frames.
The most cheerful news of the day, however, was to be found in the pages of the FICCI-PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on the state of the Indian M&E industry – a growth rate of 17 per cent in 2007 to make it a Rs 513 billion industry. The I&B Secretary saw the M&E growing to Rs 1 trillion by 2011.
Turn over the pages for a full account of Frames 2008 Day 1. We have freeze-Framed it for you.