If one thought that the Indian media and entertainment industry is going through a bad patch, the FICCI Frames 2009 forum was all about ‘just how bad’ it is. Experts from the industry were not only candid in stating that this was one of the worst recessions to have hit the global economy, and by extension then, the worst slowdown that India has seen in recent years, but they also discussed implications and steps to brave the year ahead.
The morning discussion set the tone for the day. FICCI’s President, Harsh Pati Singhania, (MD, JK Paper Ltd) spoke about how the Indian media industry – mass media and the film industry - was on the world map with various initiatives from the Indian entrepreneurs in the domain. Yash Chopra, Chairman, FICCI Entertainment Committee (Chairman, Yashraj Films) added to what Singhania said. Overall, Chopra was happy that an idea born a decade back over lunch that had become a force to reckon with in the form of FICCI Frames. At the same time, he reiterated the critical market conditions, and said that it was more important today for all factions of the industry to work together.
Tell Stories, Sell Stories
Perhaps, Kunal Dasgupta, Co-chairman, FICCI Entertainment Committee (CEO, Multi-screen Media), said it best. The Indian media industry is, and for a long time would be, about telling stories and selling stories. Dasgupta spoke on the need to be innovative in these hard times, and he pointed out three examples - Indian Premier League, Colors and increase of IPR in the Indian animation industry, which, for the sheer ground breaking thinking that they brought to the table, allowed them to be successful affairs even during the slowdown. Dasgupta said, “These just show that good ideas would always get the money.”
Sushma Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) was also part of the panel at the inauguration address. Singh took the audience through the various steps that the Government has taken to help facilitate the growth in the Indian media industry. She spoke of the various co-production deals signed with various countries, including Germany, the UK and Italy, and the conversations with others such as France and China; the various FDI policies and content creation policies. She also spoke of digitisation and the benefits that it had brought to the FM radio industry and the broadcasting domain.
Singh further informed that amongst the many steps taken to grow the direct-to-home network, one basic step was the drop in license fee from 10 per cent to 6 per cent, thereby encouraging growth in the sector.
She also spoke of the need to work together. Donald Whiteside, VP, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Global Public Policy, Intel Corporation, who was also the host of US’, the partner country, delegation at the event, reiterated this point in his address.
Need to Work Together
Meanwhile, in his inaugural address at FICCI Frames 2009, Anand Sharma, Minister of State Information and Broadcasting stressed that the Government and the industry needed to work together for a better and a stronger Indian media industry. According to him, not just initiatives, but rich ideas too were necessary to help boost growth in this sector.
Sharma said, “Ten years is not a long period, however, in these 10 years of FICCI Frames, it can be undoubtedly seen how much it has grown. One of the important roles that Cinema and media play is to inform and influence the minds of not only the decision makers, but also the common people. Over the years and every decade that Indian cinema has grown, it has produced films that have been connected to a social issue, which I believe, is equally important.”
“We live in a globalised world and there has been a phenomenal growth of both cinema and technology in this country, which also poses equal amount of challenge before policy makers because by the time a policy is created, a new technology has already come in,” he pointed out.