Woes aplenty weigh the business down

MUMBAI: CNBC's "The Entertainment Industry: Taking The Big Leap" brainstorming session held on 19 December in Mumbai, offered some insights into why films and the music industry had fared badly in the year 2002. Here, we present some of the participant's views.

SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta pointed out that films depicted the social values of the existing times. He added that it was likely that today's film makers were slow to pick up the changes in modern society and highlight them through the medium of cinema.

Due to these reasons, Dasgupta felt that the film makers were not connecting with the audiences. However, he mentioned that film-based programming has the highest share of TV programming. Since the consumers paid less than $3 for watching TV, they were being served with unoriginal fare except for certain categories like news and sports.

Producer Mukesh Bhatt, who was part of the audience, squarely put the blame on video piracy. He mentioned that his success could be attributed to the fact that he believed in 'manufacturing glamour without being a victim of it.' He claimed that high entertainment tax rates possibly where proving a dampener. He additionally blamed cheap Chinese VCD players for the crisis which has led to the penetration of cheap pirated VCDs down the population starta.

KPMG entertainment business head Rajesh Jain claimed that the lack of creativity, innovation and slick presentations were affecting the content.

Reliance Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna felt that the film industry had a higher propensity to propel doom in the 21st century 'Attention Economy' wherein films emulated products and services in vying for the attention of the consumers. Amit Khanna blamed the lack of professional marketing and promotions.

Khanna calculated a revenue of Rs 46 billion in box office for the industry per annum. However, the reported figures of Rs 30 billion indicated that there was serious misappropriation.

Manoj Desai, who owns several theatres and has produced many films, blamed it on desperate producers who flooded the markets with prints in order to capitalize on a high initial draw during the first few days. He also mentioned that the budgets of the current films were being boosted up unnecessarily.

Music industry woes:

Saregama India's VP - A&R Atul Churamani mentioned that the music industry had taken the highest hit due to the box office debacles. He also mentioned that the popularity of FM radio had resulted in a 30 percent decline in audio sales. He added that the crux was the matter lay in the fact that excess music was available for free.

A CNBC report stated that the music industry still depended on the film industry; around 65-70 percent of the content was still sourced from films. He also mentioned that the global system of music publishing rights could be adopted in India.

A Saregama representative added that an ordinary CD cost Rs 40 and has content (recorded songs) that cost the music industry millions in terms of acquisition of music rights. She added that Saregama had lost a huge proportion of their entire archives of old Hindi film songs to the grey market.

A major hurdle was the high licence fee that constituted 65 percent of the operating costs. He added that the industry had created opportunities where none existed: capitalising on the situation where the markets were flooded with cheap imports.

Lack of creativity in entertainment:

TV serial director Nupur Asthana blasted TV channels by claiming that TV channels were the masters at stifling creative thinking and content. She lamented the fact that every channel claimed to know what the audiences wanted. She added that the audiences were subjected to what the channel wanted to show rather than getting a chance to decide what they wanted to see. 

Ex-Sony Entertainment programming head and independent producer Rekha Nigam claimed that the audiences today seemed to be affected by the "I don't know what I but I want it now" syndrome. She added that entertainment was not a formula. It had to be driven by sheer passion. She added that the film writers were worse than the TV serial writers.

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