M&E is a new sunrise sector for India: Sudhanshu Vats

Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media welcomes the new I&B Minister and makes a few important requests in the areas of digitisation, rational taxation, allowing news for private radio stations & single window clearance

e4m by Priyanka Mehra & Collin Furtado
Updated: Nov 11, 2014 9:12 AM
M&E is a new sunrise sector for India: Sudhanshu Vats

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom 18 Media and Chairman, CII Media & Entertainment Committee, welcomes the new I&B Ministry team (which consists of Arun Jaitley as I&B Minister and Raghavendra Rathore as MOS Information and Broadcasting), offers advice on the areas that need the Ministry’s focus, and also makes a few important requests on digitization, taxation, allowing private FM stations to broadcast news and single window clearance.

Vats begins by extending a warm welcome  to the newly appointed  I&B Ministry team, highlights the experience and accomplishments they bring to the table, and talks about the current state of the information and broadcast sector and its growth potential.  Highlighting India’s competitive edge Vats says, “In this sector India has a competitive advantage and I say that because there are a few things which are there in India that most countries do not have.  First of all, we are a very large country with 1.2 billion people & therefore there is a market in that sense. Also, a lot of them are young people, and because many of them very digital savvy and very connected both within the country and perhaps with the world, they are bubbling with ideas.”

Vats further elaborates, “The media and entertainment in my judgement is a new sunrise sector for India and I say that because we are under-indexed on every count. We are under indexed if you look at it at a very macro level at less the one percent of the GDP, whereas in most countries media and entertainment industry as a sector operates upwards of 2 percent. So there is that much room,  it actually could beat the 2x in a hurry.”

Vats further remarks that this sector needs to be treated more like a B2C sector rather than the B2B sector since the consumers are at the centre of it and therefore regulations should be fashioned in that way.

Vats said, “I would like to say that we should again take the theme of Make in India in the media and entertainment sector, we should make India the global manufacturing hub of content because we pride ourselves in freedom of speech and freedom of thought.”

Vats further made a few requests to the new I&B Ministry team on what it could do to help better the sector. He said, “If there are any specific requests I could make to the new team, I think the first and foremost would be digitization and ensuring that digitization of cable industry is now done based on the new calendar which is being laid out on December 2015 and December 2016. But more so, it is of importance to address both addressability of the consumer and the digitization of the signal.

Addressability of the consumer is where we all need to come together and find a place. Another thing to focus on is instances where there is higher taxation or double taxation. Specifically if you look at entertainment and ticketing, the taxation levels are very high and there is room for rationalising them. In radio I was looking at the new initiative of Mr Narendra Modi on ‘Man Ki Baat’ and how he has been able to communicate with people beautifully.  Radio as a medium is still a powerful medium to communicate with people. The third round of auctions in FM will be even more successful if the rules are laid out clearly and if the news is allowed for private radios. Because we allow news when it comes to print in private area, we allow up to 26% in electronic area in news. In terms of boundaries I am sure that if somebody makes a big mistake he should be rapped on the knuckle, but allowing people to do that is important. Finally, cutting across our businesses is single window clearance with e-governance that the government is talking about now. Giving single window clearance for our film production, for our events, for many of the other things would go a long way. To summarise, it is about digitization and ensuring addressability within that, taxation and making it more rational, allowing news on FM radio and finally single window clearance and ensuring that it is implemented.” 

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