Digitisation key to future of entertainment

MUMBAI: With piracy looming as a major threat, most speakers at the inauguration of the Ficci Frames 2010 stressed the need for speeding up the process of digitalisation.

Turner Broadcasting System International president Louise Sans, who is also EVP and General Counsel for Turner Broadcasting, Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO James N Gianopulos, and Ficci SVP Harsh C Mariwala particularly emphasized on this and also said this had opened up several other mediums for entertainment content.

Sans also stressed on the increasing investments by Turner in India and said that apart from having come to India with CNN in 1991 and Cartoon Network and Pogo in 1995 and 2004 respectively, the conglomerate had now entered Hindi entertainment by acquiring Imagine TV which had been started by NDTV.

"India has emerged as the largest revenue market in the Asia Pacific region. India was also where we made our largest investment overseas in 2009," said Sans.

Cartoon Network had been the first international channel to show Indian animation films overseas in 2001.Turner had also entered into a fruitful alliance with Subhash Chandra‘s Zee Group to create Zee Turner.

Gianopulos said digitalisation was redefining Hollywood and Bollywood. As against the VHS ten years earlier, entertainment was now being transmitted through DVD, BD Live, PPV, VOD Cable, VOD Online, Digital Copy, E-Copy, EST, Streaming, Flash Media and Mobile Video.

Gianopulos said the high costs of production in America had forced producers to move out and seek new tie-ups, and India was a favourite destination. He said India had great stories, but these would not sell unless they were told with the global audience in mind. There was need to act local but think global. "There is need to make films for everyone. We also have some movies made for someone’, he added.

He said this was one of the reasons for films like ‘My name is Khan’ getting released in 44 countries including the United States, and becoming the first global film from India.

Referring to the revenues from entertainment, he said the United States earned $10,675 million from a population of 340 million in the domestic market while a sum of $19,235 million was being earned from 6,500 million people in the international market.

India had a 93 per cent share in the international market in entertainment as compared to 60 per cent in Japan and 53 per cent in China.

The international revenues of ‘Avatar’ comprised 40 per cent from just 17 per cent of the screens in India.

But he regretted that while a film fails at the box-office in India, it succeeds in pirated versions. Infringement of copyright needed to be checked very strongly.

Mariwala referred to three developments in Indian entertainment: digitalization, growth of edutainment, and corporatization.

Ficci Entertainment Committee co-chairman and filmmaker Karan Johar who conducted the first session hailed the growing popularity of Indian films and actors, and said 3.2 billion people knew Shah Rukh Khan overseas as compared to a following of 2.9 billion for Brad Pitt.

Ficci Secretary General Amit Mitra said a whole new social milieu was coming into Indian cinema and television with a change in themes and stories.

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