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Content, IPR, digitisation – focus areas for b’casters

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Content, IPR, digitisation – focus areas for b’casters

CII Media and Entertainment Summit 2012, held in Delhi aimed to redefine the spirit of media and entertainment industry in the Indian democracy. The inaugural session witnessed participation from major giants such as Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII; Amit Khanna, Chairman, CII National Committee on M&E and Chairman, Reliance Entertainment; Uday Kumar Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India; Andy Kaplan, President, Worldwide Network Sony Picture Television; and Ronnie Screwvala, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Co.

Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, I&B Ministry declared that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is actively considering steps to make India a teleport hub, enabling the country to become an up-linking/down-linking centre like Hong Kong and Singapore. Varma also said that many positive steps would be taken in revamping the FM radio industry. The empowered Group of Ministers are looking into some of the grey areas in the auction of 839 new FM radio stations across over 290 towns and cities in the country. He mentioned about the proposed National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) with the objective of undertaking frame-by-frame picture and sound restoration of more than 2,500 films.

The government would set up centres of excellence that would produce technical professionals to cater to the needs of high-end human resources and IPR creation, under public-private partnership to give impetus to the animation, gaming and VFX industry. Varma disclosed that to complete the digitisation drive in four metros, on an average 50,000-60,000 set top boxes are being installed every day and added that the digitisation process will be a reality in few days.

Highlighting the boldness of the big picture, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, pointed out the realities of the media and entertainment industry in India. He explained that the media technology is still not being developed keeping India in mind. In terms of content, global vendors and studios do not keep India at the centre of their strategy. “Even in programming, Hollywood studios are keen to sell to India. However, we are not so meaningful in size and hence, there is no customisation in any aspect of business that they do with India. As significant buyers of Hollywood content, we often struggle with that, said Uday Shankar. “The problem is that all Hollywood content in India, by definition is premium but its monetisation is through basic model. India is a unique market for Hollywood content and yet the contracts and models that they have do not work for this country and I have seen absolute reluctance to make any changes in the contract,” he added.

Shortage of infrastructure and limited access to talent is a problem faced by the industry. Shankar shared that if the size of the broadcasting industry was to double, then it will generate another three-four million direct employment.

According to him, to go beyond, there is a need to have a greater drive and consensus among all the stakeholders, including the government. In television, he said, lot of content is needed, which cannot be done just by scaling up production. It requires a fundamental transformation of the entire broadcasting eco-system.

Andy Kaplan said, “Game-changing innovation is the best insurance against irrelevancy.” According to him, content is king and multiscreen experience is the queen. In this multi-screen media rich world, consumers are driving the market by demanding instant clarification. The ratio of advertising spend to GDP is far lower in India than other countries, which according to him creates immense potential for growth. “The single line that cut across all challenges and opportunities is innovation,” he said.

He pointed that for India, even content is not an issue. There is so much of local content to continue to be creative. In future, he said, India will see much more export of Indian content to a broader audience and the driver would be technology. Increase of mobile penetration and low cost of handheld device will witness regionalisation of content.  He stated that to reach the desired growth, companies need to work in collaboration with regulators, content creators, distributors, technology and the end consumers.

Ronnie Screwvala pointed out a few observations that ail the industry. According to him, everyone relishes the headlines. The main concern is to figure out ways to operate as an industry. He remarked that at the end of the day, this is a B2B industry, where 70-75 per cent of the income comes from advertising. Growth cannot happen in an industry, where the benchmark of everything is based on the advertising growth index. “Broadcasting films and everything else needs to be a B2C business,” he said.

He said that the though there are multiple platforms for content but there should be respect for intellectual property. He said that some of the kickers that will take us to the next level is how do we make this into a B2C business, how to get 200 million people to pay Rs 1500 to consume entertainment.

Innovation in creativity, experiential entertainment, investment in infrastructure can be game-changing. According to him, edutainment and broadband have a tremendous opportunity and lastly, power of rural India cannot be underestimated.

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.