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Big Picture Conference: Rampant piracy continues to be deterrent for entertainment biz in India

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Big Picture Conference: Rampant piracy continues to be deterrent for entertainment biz in India

Piracy, lower distribution in smaller cities and towns, decreasing business revenues in home entertainment and films were some of the issues that dominated the concluding day of the two-day Big Picture Conference 2007, held at Goa.

Day two of the Conference began with a session on ‘New Developments – Media Process Outsourcing & Creative Content Development’, which focussed on the threats and challenges in the business of entertainment as well as the perils inherent in the new developments in terms of both emerging platforms and new technologies.

The issues that were discussed in the session included the rampant piracy, which is increasingly hampering the revenues in the business of not only home entertainment but also theatres; lack of creative talent and institutions; and poor legislation in terms of finding a solution for curbing piracy and other major constraints hampering the business of entertainment in India.

Matthew Cheetham, Regional Director, MPAA, USA, said, “85-90 per cent per cent of the Indian market is pirated market, and I think this is a major worry in India. The Government should step in here and enforce a law that would prevent this otherwise the companies have to sort it out internally how they could prevent further losses.”

Cheetham further said that though piracy was a concern, Internet had proved to be a powerful medium with around 1.4 billion downloads happening from the overseas markets.

John Schreiner, Vice-President, Sales, IMAX, Canada, emphasised on the need to outsource business processes that could not be managed internally. Other issues that were covered in the session included Digital Right Management, and challenges from newer technologies like 2D and 3D animation.

In a session on ‘New Distribution Patterns in Media sector’, well-known speakers like Harish Dayani, CEO, Entertainment, Moser Baer; Sanjay Wadhwa, Managing Partner, AP International; and Sunil Kheterpal, COO, Adlabs Films, gave their views on the growth and challenges pertaining to home video growth in India.

Dayani said that the Indian Government was not lending active support to curb piracy, and that companies had to realise that the solution needed to be tackled from within the industry. He further said that the blockbusters that typically generated Rs 70-80 crore were actually viewed by only 2 per cent of the total population of India.

According to him, “Cinema viewership is dropping and a huge chunk of revenues are being leaked in the business due to lack of solution against piracy. The numbers in terms of theatrical views in smaller towns and cities are not at all encouraging, and over all this the rental business, which is obviously unauthorized, is affecting the overall sales of DVDs and CDs in India.”

Further citing loopholes in the home entertainment business, Dayani said that there were too many small players in the industry, and a unified company or a body was required to monetise operations and address issues concerning overall growth of the industry.

Lowering of DVD and CD rates was an area that was discussed by the panel as a strategy to curb piracy. Wadhwa pointed out that though such a strategy would help raise sales, at the same time it could also prove to be negative for the industry in the long run. “Once you lower the rates, there is no way you can hike them again. Moreover, lowering rates will bring down the overall revenues of the companies. So, I don’t see any long term benefit for the industry by taking such a step,” he maintained.

The last session prior to the Valedictory session discussed new markets and the opportunities for Indian entertainment business at the global level. Speakers from countries like Singapore, the UK, Germany and Oman spoke about the Bollywood market in their respective countries.


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