“FRAMES 2004 has put together an impressive cast of visualisers, entertainers, designers and artists in this theatre of thought,” began Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and MD, Reliance Industries Ltd in the valedictory address. ‘Entertainment: Opportunities and Challenges of the Digital Age’ was the topic he was reflecting upon.
Expressing that he considered it a privilege to take FICCI FRAMES 2004 to its finale he pronounced that like a Sutradhar, he was providing perspectives at the platform. He said, “The story I have to tell dates back a thousand years when India was a global power and was celebrated for its entertainment ability. But somewhere down the line, it lost this pre-eminent position and US emerged as the leader.” He explained how US utilised technology to define entertainment. He said, “Indian entertainment has the depth and diversity but it does not translate into revenues on the global scene.”
He drew comparisons between US and India to present a better picture of revenue ratio. He informed that where US produced 450 movies annually, we have 800 but our revenues are 1/60th of US. In the case of music, we deliver music units a third of what US produces but the revenue quotient is just 2 per cent of US revenues. Coming to television, despite the same number of channels like US, returns are 1/100th of US.
He said, “This speaks of the problems we face but it also indicates the potential we hold. The entertainment industry can grow a hundred times in the next two decades and this is possible as we are in the digital age.”
Drawing an analogy to electricity he said that digital came into existence associated only with computing, but it soon became an integrated part of aspects like information, communication, education, medicine and entertainment. He said, “By putting requisite infrastructure in place, we are essentially creating a new way of life, the digital life.”
For the growth period involved in the case of radio, television, Internet and now broadband reducing, technology deployment has accelerated. Following this, he related technology to entertainment and enumerated six opportunities for the industry. He said, “With convergence that brings entertainment on a common platform of the virtual world, new domains like animation, gaming edutainment and virtual tourism have come to fore. Secondly, digital entertainment with interactivity will take entertainment to newer heights. The choice available will be such that a viewer can control even the storyline. The marriage of digital technology and the art of illusion opens innumerable opportunities, which can be limited by nothing else but human imagination.”
The third opportunity according to him would be in creativity, where talent wouldn’t need a godfather to be showcased. The fourth would be in giving viewers the chance to avail entertainment at any given time in any given form and on demand. The fifth would be for staging events. He said, “Now what we view is episodic entertainment but would mean a full feel event based experience.” The last gain as per him would be enlarging of the revenue pie.
With that he came to more India specific points. He said that while India had the potential to provide the largest talent pool in creativity and technology, had the ability to emerge as a global power and create an entertainment revolution, there were many challenges also that it faced. Factors like infrastructure, human resources and technology are the arenas that according to him require concentration and more work.
Ambani also listed out the various benefits that stakeholders of the entertainment scene stand to gain. He said, “From consumers to cable operators all will benefit. For the consumer, it is more choice, for advertisers, it would mean bulls eye targeting, production and distribution would have more impact and cable operators would get a chance to give services than just signals.”
He brought in the Reliance angle here speaking about its digital face, Reliance Infocomm, which believes in the foresight of creating broadband Bharat. Listing the activities that Reliance has undergone, its plans and its spirit of partnership, he expressed that Reliance was contributing for India to regain its leadership in entertainment.
In conclusion, Ambani stated that digital age would bring a utopia in entertainment. It would democratise entertainment and shift power from content creators to entertainment consumers. He said, “I see India as a land of billion opportunities. One must dare to dream and dare to dream big. Only that way 21st century would be India century.”