Credible data is what international bodies are seeking

MUMBAI: Get serious with the numbers that are being thrown around or miss a great opportunity waiting to be tapped. That was the message at the session on the "International Media Perspective on Indian Entertainment Industry - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!" which was conducted during the latter half of the opening day at Ficci FRAMES 2003 in Mumbai.

From a hard hitting comment, "They don’t really give a damn (the international media)," by Asian Movie Works MD Scott Rosenberg to a pretty picture painted by the Australia based Anupam Sharma, a seemingly full breadth opinion was what was brought to the table at the discussion chaired by Times of India president Pradeep Guha.

Putting forth a bald "if truth be told" account of how the West perceives the Indian entertainment sector, Rosenberg offered a few practical solutions on how the Western media could be made more India friendly.

His recipe: (a) Have a good spin on the news that is generated to make it interesting to for a western audience; Have a complete grasp of what the trade journals and magazines like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter are reporting on.

(b) Advertise

(c) Make it a point to get to know the regional reporters (like Rosenberg) and wine and dine them

(d) Get a good PR firm.

A point that all the speakers at the session that included Variety international director Lionel O’Hara, Carlton Television producer Parminder Vir and Hollywood Reporter/ Billboard Indian correspondent Nyay Bhushan had was that at the end of it all whatever it was the Indian entertainment business had to offer had to translate into tangible dollars and cents numbers which were reliable.

Right from the speakers to, sections of the audience, (which included an international investor) the point was made that if the data that was being thrown up could offer better clarity as to just what was the actual picture then only would serious business proposals be put on the table.

Vir made the point that India had immense amounts of talent as far as directing, producing and technical skills were concerned, that could be exported. India had more to offer than Bollywood, Vir stressed. The world needed to be educated as to the business and creative opportunities that India offered, Vir added.

Corporatisation and restructuring of the industry was in process Davies said, adding conditional access rollout (CAS) had the potential to be the harbinger of the second generation growth explosion in India and this needed to be articulated further.

Davies dished out some highly optimistic projections as to what India’s cable and satellite industry was worth. It generated US$ 1.8 billion in 2002, would throw up US $ 2.115 billion this year and would be worth $ 3 billion in 2006, Davies said.

Bhushan suggested that the Indian entertainment industry be represented better globally. He cited the example of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) which had offices in Los Angeles to keep the Americans up to date on what the British film industry was doing.

Vir summed it up thus: "Research and data needs to be seriously improved if the Industry is to be taken more seriously."

The message to India’s blossoming media and entertainment industry: improve corporate governance and people are thirsting for reliable information. That’s a message that agencies like KPMG which produced this year’s report for FRAMES, "The India Entertainment Sector in the Spotlight" also need to imbibe.

Dollar to rupee conversion rate: US$1 = Rs 47.66

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