Singapore's information minister sounds warning on capturing more Asian media business

SINGAPORE: Impressive! Thats all one can say about the remarks of Singapores Singapore's acting minister for the ministry of information, communications and the arts David Lim at the Asia Media Festival incorporating, Asia Television Forum, Asia Film Market & Conference 2002 and Asia Animation.

Lim was effusive and enthusiastic to say the least about the prospects of Asia as far as the entertainment business is concerned. And he made a statement that announced Singapores intentions to capture more of the investment and business pouring into the media sector in Asia from American and European media companies. In effect make it an even stronger media hub.

Quoting a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, Lim said that of the $1.1 trillion media & entertainment market globally, Asia commands $215 million or 20 per cent, "The Asian markets are growing especially fuelled by demand from India and China. Fundamentally, media demand is driven by how much time, each one of us sets aside to catch up on the news, watch TV listen to the radio or go to the movies. There are a lot of people in Asia, it commands half the worlds population, with the rising affluence of the middle class, there is great potential in the Asian media markets."

"Second Asia is producing a lot of local content. Audiences here are showing a lot of preference for films," he said.

Lim showed himself to be an admirer of Bollywood. "Today Bollywood alone has an output of 1,000 films in a year, which exceed their illustrous counterpart Hollywood. Last year Bollywood sold more than $3.6 billion tickets worldwide and earned $108 million in overseas sales. South Korea has grown from nothing in export sales of film and TV to $20 million today. Asian and Hollywood can cooperate for mutual benefit."

Thirdly, he said Asia is quickly migrating to digital technology in media productions. "These three trends growing markets, demand for local content and migration to digital technologies present Asia with growth opportunities."

"Asia has a lot of local talent... John Woo with Mission Impossible... Mira Nair with her Monsoon Wedding... Jackie Chan in Rush Hour... Michelle Yeoh in Touch and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon... Apart from talent, Asia also offers many exotic shooting locations for movies."

Asia however needs a stronger regime to protect intellectual property, it has to put in place the supporting infrastructure to fund, produce, edit and deliver media content, legal and financial frameworks to support production agreements," he pointed out.

He also sounded a warning that Singapore was going get more aggressive on media.

"Despite its phenomenal success and output, Bollywoods global revenues amount to just $1.3 billion or two per cent of that of Hollywood. We should not be discouraged by this low number, we should focus on the 98 per cent as unrealised value of Asian media. In Singapore we are thinking of this. We have identified the creative industry as a new source of economic vitality and growth. And we see media as a cornerstone of our creative industry."

Lim pointed out that Singapore had announced the Media21 plan to leverage on media and generate new growth in the 21st Century. "Through this plan we hope to attract the creative talent and investors from all over the world to develop content, train people, build production capabilities and manage their intellectual properties and distribution channels for the Asian markets."

He added that the Media Development Authority which was mandated by a bill last month to help develop and regulate the media industry will become active in January 2003. "Singapore may be small we are confident we can play a significant role in developing the Asian market. We want to play host to media companies and talents."

Maybe there are lessons that Indias information & broadcasting ministry can learn from the steely courage and passion and vision that its counterpart in Singapore has. India missed out on the opportunity of being an uplinking hub for Asia, thanks to sheer ignorance, disinterest and lethargy. Singapore captured that slot. Its quite likely it may do the same in the media sector courtesy its aggressive stance. Shushmaji are you listening?

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