At the recently held FICCI Frames 2016 event in Mumbai, Sunil Arora, Secretary, Ministry of I & B, delivered a special address highlighting the challenges and opportunities in the M& E sector.
Arora spoke about the I& B ministry’s plans to work on three aspects that would benefit the Media and Entertainment industry which involves reducing the time of issuing various clearances, less regulation and encouraging industry bodies towards auto-regulation and finally to make India the hub of investments.
Arora also spoke about his recent meeting with Goa’s tourism minister along with various filmmakers to promote easier filmmaking procedures in India. He cited how over the years Gujarat has emerged as the most film friendly state followed by Kerala and U.P.
He also said that given India’s rich cultural heritage, the ministry is currently working on the ‘National Film Archives’, a planned project worth Rs 598 crore which will be spent in 5 years and a thousand feature and non-feature films will be stored, re-stored and digitized.
It must be mentioned that in February this year, a 10 day media seminar was held in Pune with personalities like Richard Wright, Thelma Ross, Spencer Christian and others who taught and interacted with amateurs and professionals about film archiving, curation and digitization. “Kamal Haasan was our chief guest, and I said pilgrimage is not always going to Varanasi or Amritsar or going to any holy town for that matter but pilgrimage is coming here, if these people from all parts of the globe think India to be the place where they want to spend 10 full days and interact with our students, professionals and amateurs then surely India as a media and entertainment destination has arrived,” Arora added.
Along with FICCI the ministry is setting up a National Centre of Excellence in Animation & VFX and Gaming in Mumbai. The Govt. of Maharashtra has agreed to provide 25 acres of land in film city situated in Mumbai and the cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 160 crore.
Highlighting issues related to the television industry, Arora said, “I am glad to say that in the last six months we have issued more clearances compared to past three years. I can only assure you this is a process forward not a process backward.”
Arora also revealed that the NFDC will be back in business as all the problems within it have been resolved. He also underlined that the theatre density was one of the hindrances in making India a Media & Entertainment hub with the country only having around 8000 theatres including multiplexes.
Arora believes that the government is totally committed to digitization and added, “The manufacturing of set top boxes in India is one of the important verticals in the electronic industry and Make in India or Start Up India programme and the industry needs to play a larger role to promote it.” Speaking about the FM auctions, Arora feels that the government is trying to learn from its past experiences and implementing new measures to make it more efficient. Arora finally revealed that stand-alone news channels and entertainment channels were not in the pink of financial health as they ought to be and the big media houses needed to cross subsidize the loss making channels to change the scenario.