FICCI Frames 2006 lived up to its expectations with the first day opening to a full house on Wednesday, March 22, 2006. In fact, so overwhelming was the response that registrations had to be stopped midway as the venue couldn't accommodate the vast number or people who had turned up. Nearly 1,500 national and international delegates, representing various bodies like trade units, government bodies, broadcasters, publications, and just about anyone who had anything to do with the entertainment and media space were there. The event kicked off with a power packed session with speakers like Tom Freston, President and CEO, Viacom; Tessa Jowell, Secretary, Department of Culture, Media & Sports, Government of UK, S K Arora, Secretary, I&B Ministry, Government of India; fimmaker Yash Chopra; Ashok Amritraj, Chairman, Hyde Park Entertainment; and Deepak Kapoor, Executive Director and Industry Leader for Entertainment and Media, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi couldn't make it for the inaugural session, but FICCI officials informed that he would be present at the event on March 24, 2006 – the last day of the event. FICCI Co-chairman Kunal Dasgupta was also missed at the inaugural.
The lamp lighting ceremony, marking the formal opening of FICCI Frames 2006, was done by actress Vidya Balan. FICCI President Saroj Kumar Poddar began the proceedings by taking the audience through some of the changes that have come about in the Indian entertainment and media industry, and detailed how FICCI Frames had been able to capture and deliberate on these changes year-on-year.
He said, "Frames has not just been able to cite the changes that would be seen in the various disciplines in the entertainment and media industry but go deep enough to observe the patterns in these changes."
He stated that from just speaking on films, music and broadcast, Frames moved on to cover issues in animation, gaming and visual effects, adding, "It is a challenging matrix. Digital technology has played a key role in bringing these changes and Frames has observed them closely."
The FICCI-PricewaterhouseCoopers annual report, 'Unravelling the Potential of Media', was released, and this was followed by the release of the 'Law Book' authored by Amarchand Mangaldas.
PwC's Kapoor informed that the 2006 report had added the Print industry to the other segments that had been studied so far. "This is just a reflection of the convergence in media and the interplay between various mediums," he said. Kapoor also highlighted the key points of the report, which detail the estimated market size and projected growth rates of various segments like TV, radio, music, films and emerging forces like animation, gaming, internet and out-of-home.
"The entertainment and media sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the Indian economy and has again outperformed itself with television still dominating the scene," stated Kapoor. With a quick peek at almost every sector, Kapoor said that the future held a well-connected, converged world. "It has everything going for it – technology, digitisation, government support and industry developments," he added.
The next to hold the audience attention was Tom Freston. Just as much as the audience was eager to hear the Viacom Head, Freston was excited to be in India and he made no secret of it. "Being here for me is my past and future coming together," said Freston. He spoke of the time he spent in India in his younger days and the affinity he had built towards Indian cinema. "I remember watching 'Hare Rama, Hare Krishna' and like everyone else falling in love with Zeenat Aman. When everyone else was watching Al Pacino in 'Godfather', I was watching 'Zanjeer'!" quipped Freston.
He spoke on what worked for Viacom ventures - the MTV Networks in India - and the changes made in the lifecycle of the brand to give it the stature that it enjoys in India today. From digitisation and its impact on broadcast and content, importance of localisation and Viacom's intentions for its movie production unit Paramount, Freston gave the audience an inkling of what can be expected from Viacom going forward, in the entertainment sector.
King of Romance, Yash Chopra, spoke on the efforts that Hindi movie producers were taking to spread Indian entertainment in international markets. Speaking from a FICCI point of view, he said, "Frames is an event for global entertainment people. This year we had to stop the registration at 1,500 delegates, but next year, we will try and increase this. Indian cinema has reached a stage where we are growing on all fronts, and India is the focus of attention. Whether it is joint ventures, co-production treaties, animation or digital technologies – everyone is looking at us."
He also spoke of the manner in which Indian movies were being taken to international markets like Australia, Dubai and others.
S K Arora from the I&B Ministry gave a perspective on the changes that several disciplines – film, TV, animation and radio – have seen in the recent past, and the government regulations made in accordance to these changes. From the film industry's point of view, he put in simple words that the achievement of the Indian film industry was seen in the fact that this was one area where Indian brands went in international markets in their own name and form. He also spoke on the steps that needed to be taken to export more of the Indian film industry, and to penetrate the Indian market better.
Arora drew audience attention to radio, and the significant changes seen in the domain that will drive FM growth in the country in an unprecedented fashion. On animation, he emphasised that there was a need to concentrate on making the animation sector lucrative enough in India to attract investments – domestic and foreign - in order to be more than just sweatshops for international players.
"Television has always been a sector where developments in the medium have been much faster than that of government regulations, and the government has done much catching up of late and has been able to do so with some success. The result has been some important policies coming in the recent past," said Arora.
Unarguably the most successful Indian in Hollywood, Ashok Amritraj, began with the reality of the hardships that moviemaking poses – more so in Hollywood. "I carried the Hollywood dream in my heart since 1981, and in the beginning, it was all about knocking doors and meeting studio executives with scripts. Much has changed in the industry since then."
Amritraj also spoke on Indian movies in international markets and enlisted the limitations he saw there. Among the points he made, was a mention of more marketing efforts of Indian movies in global markets, and getting them into the right theatres. On the India front itself, he said that there was a need to follow copyright laws more closely. "It's not necessary that every new movie is inspired by the latest Hollywood movie," he remarked.
Tessa Jowell started off with the initiatives in the making between the UK and India in the film making domain, and the signing of co-production film treaty last year. She said, "The treaty will enable both our film industries to take fuller advantage of the new opportunities of the digital age – we estimate that in its first year around ten films would be made under the auspices – benefiting the UK and India by around $155 million."
She spoke at length about the development of the creative sector in the UK and the various initiatives taken there to facilitate this, and listed out various benefits in terms of skills and resource-sharing, and further revenue coming from partnerships with a country like India. In essence, she left the audience with a taste of optimism, generated from the strengthening of Indo-UK film relations through JVs and UK's investment in India.
The session was wrapped up by Amit Khanna, Chairman, FICCI Convergence Committee, who summed up the key points of the speakers, adding, "Technology has empowered people to achieve new heights in the entertainment and media segment, but in the core of it still are creativity and passion. These would be the differentiators and drivers."
The Indian entertainment and media industry is scaling new heights – it is indeed the sector whose age has come!