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FICCI's report on the entertainment industry projects optimistic figures

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The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has compiled a report "The Indian Entertainment Industry: Strategy & Vision" with the assistence of Arthur Anderson. It was officially released at the "International Conference on the Business of Entertainment: India-Opportunities in the 21st Century" held in Mumbai on 30 March, 2000.

The report presents very optimistic figures pertaining to the entertainment industry and makes some recommendations to the government to facilitate the growth of the industry. It expects the turnover of the entertainment industry to touch Rs 600 billion. The report says that the future of television broadcasting belongs to the satellite channels. The market of regional channels is huge with more and more players like Zee and Broadcast Worldwide making a foray into the regional channel market. Even the niche channels like Nickelodeon, Maharishi, Cartoon network, Fashion TV, ESPN, Discovery, Channel V etc have a tremendous potential and their huge success indicates the fragmentation of audience. Regarding the Direct-To-Home (DTH) mode of distribution of television channels, the report says that it too has a tremendous potential and if the segment is opened up, there would be 1 million DTH homes in India by 2002.

FICCI recommends that the government should lift the ban on the use of KU Band reception equipments as it will be incongruent in a scenario of freely viewable television channels over the Internet. It also suggests that the government should privatise the terrestrial network along with introduction of DTH which will enable the smaller cities to receive satellite channels as the cable operators ignore that segment. Another important point highlighted is the ammendment in the conditions for the presumptive rate of taxation of foreign companies which stands at the rate of 10% of deemed profits. A legislation clarifying the taxation of foreign telecasting companies is demanded.

Development of about two to three earth stations in India within the next six to seven years would generate revenues between $12 million to $23 million as Indian as well as foreign channels would consider uplinking from India. The Government can generate revenues between $12 million to $23 million by leasing a part of its terrestrial network. The level of employment can double from the existing 2,50,000 people in the next three to five years. The growth in the broadcasting industry will simulate a similar trend in industries such as the television software industry, film industry, the music industry and even the equipment and hardware manufacturing industry which directly depend on the broadcasting sector.

In the cable television sector, FICCI has requested the government to rectify the hinderences in the growth of the cable television market due to restrictions on foreign equity participation and the short-sightedness of the Cable Television (Networks) Act, 1995 and the archaic Indian Telegraphs Act, 1885. The growth of the cable television industry would help the government in generating more revenues in the form of taxes. The penetration of Internet to the common man can also increase with the growth of the cable television industry. Employment in this sector stands at 2,50,000 people. Additional 4,00,000 peaple can be employed in the next three to five years.

On the television software side, FICCI has requested the government to nominate a representative who would be an active member and assist in industry issues like hardware insurance, copyright protection, etc. The government should also facilitate the growth of training institutions focussing on software development that would help the students learn modern techniques on up-to-date equipment and be aware of the dynamic trends in the entertainment industry. The television software and entertainment companies should also benefit similarly from the 10% listing criterion currently enjoyed by infotech companies as it would help in giving adequate ESOPs. Another benefit of utilising 100% proceedings of funds raised through ADR/GDR issues to acquire overseas companies is enjoyed only by IT industries and this benefit should also be made available to other companies.

Owing to the increase in revenues in this segment to $2,093 million by 2005, the government's tax collections will rise to $318 million. If proper and adequate incentives are provided by the government, the export earnings from this segment will rise to $233 million within the next two years, from the current $81 million. The industry expects this figure to touch $1.356 billion by the year 2005. Direct and indirect employment will rise from the current level of 1 million to 2 million by the year 2005.

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