Kartikeya Sharma, Group Chairman, ITV Network shares his views on Arun Jaitley taking charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, talks about issues of STB import duties, DAS,4G and how the interlinked issues under various ministries will impact the broadcast industry on the whole.
On Arun Jaitley being given the additional responsibility of MIB along with Finance Ministry, Sharma says, “Who better than a person who is handling both the portfolios to understand the problems of the industry? Especially since most of the problems are very fundamental, the only way they can be resolved or some concrete action can be taken if there some policy changes happening, which is the intent.”
He further adds that this was not done in the last government, the problems of the industry are also at a very fundamental level, a decision like implementing DAS fully is an infrastructure decision and it has been taken lightly. “Frankly I would expect the next budget to waive import duties of STBs which will help expedite the entire digitisation process.
There are these fundamental infrastructural issues that are plaguing the industry at one level,” asserts Sharma.
What is also important is to address the macro issues which will change the investment environment in the whole segment. “If there are some policy changes that happen at a macro level, that can also affect the industry in terms of quantum of investment coming into the industry, directly or indirectly. These issues will have a huge bearing on how the industry pans out,” observes Sharma.
Referring to Arun Jaitley as I&B Minister, Sharma said someone in the right place at the right time can do this. “You need someone as senior as Jaitley to make some policy decisions at a fundamental level.” he said.
Digitisation is to be seen as a more holistic thing. It is going to alter businesses models per se. There are a lot of other things which have a cascading effect. Sharma cited the example of the initiatives the government is taking on e-commerce, saying if it pans out well, it is a completely new dimension that growth will come out of.
With regards to 4G, he said, “If you look at how things will be impacted with the penetration of 4G in the digital space and in broadcast, that will also be very interesting because there will be paradigm shifts in the way technology will evolve and consumption patterns will evolve. The intermediaries will change and how we look at entire markets and monetisation will also change.”
These are interlinked issues, from one ministry to the other. An issue in IT and Telecom will impact Broadcast indirectly and maybe directly in some time. Those are larger macro-economic issues that are converging at the same time, according to Sharma.
On a positive note, he adds, “We have to be ready for a different kind of an environment in which we have to evolve. It’s a very optimistic prospective that the government has put out there.”
Sharma comments further, “I am looking forward to projects being competed, which have been in the same process for a long time. “
If we do get our 4G act together and roll it out at the right time, there is no telling what the effect will be as it has not really been gauged in a market like India.”
On the impact of 4G in a developing country like India, Sharma adds, “Wherever 4G has come out, are by and large developed markets. Putting a device in someone’s hand who is uneducated, and the power of connecting him through video even before the education system has reached the person, is a very potent and unique combination.”