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FICCI 2015: There is no room for anymore Star Plus-es or Zees: Harit Nagpal

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FICCI 2015: There is no room for anymore Star Plus-es or Zees: Harit Nagpal

Harit Nagpal, CEO & MD, Tata Sky kick-started the first session of Day 1 of FICCI FRAMES 2015 with the topic ‘How can India be the global Media and Entertainment superpower’.  He started on a positive note and said, “It seems very normal to be me because India now stands in the top 50 media and entertainment economies in the world. The advantage here is that we are the only ones who are growing at a double digit growth. It has been at the same level for the last five years. So my concern here is how to grow from here in order to become a superpower. We should ask ourselves two questions at this stage- are we going to do ‘different things’ and are we doing things ‘slightly differently’.”

He gave examples of few Indian brands like Nirma, Lijjat Papad, Ghari Detergent and Chic who could come into this huge competitive market and challenge the big MNC players mainly because they were backed by the media. The media not only helped to boost the consumption, but it also took the manufacturing and the distribution to the masses.

Talking about one of the major ailments in the Media and Entertainment industry, he cited, “There is lack of new ideas and the flair for creativity is missing. If anyone has found any successful format, 20 others will just blindly dive into it. What one fails to understand here is that there is no room for any more ‘Star Plus’es or ‘Zee’s and also there will be only one Arnab Goswami and one Barkha Dutt. So every time a new GEC is launched, and when they churn out the same stuff, their viewership and revenue sees a dip. After which they are forced to bank on 20 to 22 minutes of advertising for which the regulators starts questioning and they are seen sitting in courts. Secondly, there is a need to take the production centres beyond the main cities to smaller towns because real talent exists in the deeper pockets of our country.”

Nagpal then goes on to cite few areas where the government needs to be more prompt and responsible for the betterment of the media and entertainment industry. According to him, the industry and the government both are equally guilty of stamping words like glamour, propaganda, creativity and empower into this industry. “This industry is like any other industry which is created to benefit users, generate employment and drive economy which it has been doing for all these years. Talking about Tata Sky, not only have we added 5 million digital customers in 3-4 years, but also our taxes to the government and content providers have also increased. Through our Rural Entrepreneur Skill scheme, our plan is to enrol around 80,000 new entrepreneurs in the village and give them full time employment. In less than a year, we have been able to give employment to 20,000 entrepreneurs, so it is not only about glamour. It is said that this industry employs 6 million people and my belief is that the number can only grow manifold,” he commented.

He highlighted the rules for setting up a business which is extremely tiresome because there are numerous approvals and nods required from the government. “We have been waiting for an approval from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministry for Rs 250 crore. The money for the project has already come. But, if the approval doesn’t come in the next 48 hours, I will have to return that money to the foreign investors.”Responding to this, JS Mathur, I&B Ministry additional secretary in the next session said, “Well, we had granted the approval a month back, and then Tata Sky realised that for the route it wanted to take with the investment, it had to reapply and this is the reason it is taking time.”

Even though things have been happening at a good speed in this new government, but the question should be how to provide growth. According to Nagpal it can be done through self regulation; “We are here to inform and not to seek approval. If we violate the rules, then cancel our license and punish us. Otherwise these small everyday pending approvals take a larger shape and they start hampering the industry in total,” he said.

Touching upon digitisation, Nagpal said, “The increasing number of digitised homes will help more producers to monetise their production. This has already started; a lot of films are breaking even only on the basis of selling their rights to cable and satellite.  The country has seen digitisation of 42 cities. Digitisation is equal to automation. The new role of the Local Cable Operator (LCO) is to be of a service provider to the Multi System Operator (MSO) and not a partner. I think this need to be thought about.”

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