Apex entertainment body mooted at ICE summit in Kolkata

An effort is being made to set up a unified apex body for the Indian entertainment industry. The professional mooting the exercise: UTV Net Solutions CEO Biren Ghose.

Ghose, who is the chairman of CII media and infotainment committee (Western Region) says a draft for this apex body formation is being prepared which will be put up before the CII board at a similar presentation session and the modalities for creating a working model will be established.

The proposed organisation, along the lines of Nasscom, will seek to have representatives from all sectors of the industry, and will press for the formulation of a national entertainment strategy. The proposed apex body agenda would be to draw up a future course of action and enlighten policymakers regarding the changes required to remain competitive in the world market.

Ghose made this proposal at the CII-backed ICE Summit in Kolkata (18-19 November 2001) during the session "New paradigms for the content and entertainment players." His proposal got the backing of other panel members consisting of Saregama CEO Abhik Mitra, Zee CEO R. K. Singh and Sahara TV president Mahesh Prasad.

Ghose says that the apex body will have a governing body comprising of industry members themselves and will not offer competition to any existing body. This organization will be an alliance between all organizations where everybody related to media will be partners. Production houses, animation units, broadcasters, advertisers, event management companies, music companies, irrespective of size or budgets will automatically become members. A draft action plan is likely to be approved by January 2002.

Ghose additionally proposed a four-pronged core growth code. This includes changing social norms and mindsets, introducing policy changes, unifying the entertainment industry and conducting a national branding exercise for Indian entertainment globally.

Elaborating on the growth codes, Ghose says the first code involves changing social norms and instituting a mindset change in Indians. Entertainment is not viewed as a national priority like other sectors, although it rakes in an estimated turnover of Rs 10 billion. The inner guilt feeling for entertainment needs to be removed from people's minds, he said.

The second code, Ghose says, is to redefine the Indian entertainment industry as a whole. "The idea is to migrate it from current practices and to make it an identifiable entity through a formal process," he points out.

The entertainment industry itself needs to market India as the destination for production companies. The government on its part should induce changes in its policies to present India properly and introduce the necessary regulatory sops, he says.

The third growth code is governance and process. All resources within the industry should come together in a common pool and create one organization networking together for common causes. Membership should not be restricted based on investment, venture capital, or sales figures.

The fourth code is to create a national branding exercise for India, which will position the country as a logical choice across the value chain. The industry should be seen to be speaking in one voice globally.

Adherence to the growth codes will result in advantages and applications on varied fronts, says Ghose. One problem which could be curtailed is piracy. Entertainment companies are losing Rs 3 billion in revenue due to piracy on account of illegitimate CDs, DVDs, FTP downloads, video cassettes, cable TV etc.

He points out that business growth for pirates is 45 per cent while the legitimate sector growth is at only 25 per cent.

Another area which the apex body could play a role is in ensuring better financing options for the unorganised entertainment sector, Ghose points out. So far financial institutions such IDBI and banks have been chary of lending to entertainment companies as they operate mainly in the cash domain.

His view is that by bringing in a rating agency, which will rate the risk behind each entertainment project, say a movie, institutions may be more conducive to extending funding. The apex body will play a role in backing and mooting such as risk rating agency. 

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