FICCI Frames has to be one of the most important events in the calendars of the Indian media fraternity. Ever since its inception, conversations at Frames have attempted to give a direction to the growth of the industry, to see what the next area of focus should be.
For me, Frames was the platform that first discussed convergence and addressability and I had got to hear it right from a visionary. None other than Mukesh Ambani, who had spoken back in 2004 of the future, the first inklings of which we see now.
Frames was the stage where a leader like Subhash Chandra chose to question where Indian entrepreneurs stood in an industry dominated by international companies every day. A few years later, he was on the same stage as he spoke of the death of television as we knew it. And today, we live what he saw then.
And Frames was the same stage that the Minister of Information and Broadcasting first chose to speak on the second phase of FM Radio, bringing some hope to a new burgeoning medium – radio.
Frames lives the allegation every year of being the platform that stopped making sense as a forum and had become a networking ground. Where the future of the industry no longer got deliberated on, but the sales speeches adorned conversations on stage, and off stage, including question and answer rounds!
Media professionals began speaking on the fact that the ‘communication’ factor was missing at Frames. Advertisers and agencies were missing and the event may have remained important for the media business, but it was losing relevance for the seniors in the industry and for the other side of the value chain.
Over the last couple of years, it even appeared that FICCI had paid attention to these conversations – and which is why names like Sir Martin Sorrell and Tim Love were seen on the Frames stage. But the lack of audience inside the rooms in these sessions, despite the numbers in the corridors, raised questions once again on whether Frames was involving the corporate and creative side of media rather than just the production side.
In the latest edition of Frames, the story was not very different. Arguably, the best of the entertainment professionals presented their views, even the professionals facing the camera were seen in discussions, the digital side of movies and cinema was discussed. But for a three-day forum, television perhaps had three relevant future-looking sessions, radio had one, print had none. Journalism was discussed, but the print industry, its growth and glory, it hurdles and hiccups were not tabled.
FICCI Frames is definitely becoming a stronger event – entertainment has no other place of conversation. But if it ever was seen as a forum for media, for the next set of professionals, it would not be so for too long.