TV broadcasting biz to grow to Rs 130b by 2007: I&B minister

NEW DELHI: India's information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the digital revolution and the phenomenon of convergence are creating a new model of society and changing the way in which information is used.

Delivering the keynote address on Promotion and Preservation of Cultural Diversities at the first conference of ministers of information and broadcasting of Asia-Pacific Region at Bangkok today, Prasad said technological advances have created a whole new spectrum and array of venues for the global circulation of cultural content.

In this context, he called for broadcasting to act as an important instrument. "There has to be sharing, mutual exchange and reciprocity through institutional arrangement among the broadcasting organisations," the minister said.

Dwelling on the theories of globalisation, Prasad said that the emergence of the satellite culture in India has clearly shown that success in a large diverse market like India requires a high degree of localisation. The transformation of Star and music channels (like MTV) offer ample proof of that..

Although there is no legislation in India mandating screen time quota restrictions or local content requirements, the public demand itself forced broadcasters to cater to all such requirements, Prasad pointed out.

Outlining the electronic media's expansion in India, Prasad said that total TV connectivity in India (including the reach of pubcaster Doordarshan) today is about 82 million households. TV broadcasting industry is expected to grow to Rs 130 billion and TV software segment is likely to grow to Rs 35 million by 2007.

Prasar Bharati, that oversees the functioning of DD and All India Radio, has an average daily audience of over 400 million with 213 radio and 50 TV stations, 340 radio and 1358 TV transmitters in every nook and corner of the country, Prasad said.

The minister also called for cultural policies by countries to be adapted to globalisation for striking a balance between free flow of cultural goods and services and the need for preserving and promoting domestic culture. According to Prasad, the challenge is to develop a model that promotes cultural diversity by marrying traditional broadcasting with new media and expanded global distribution.

He said, the development of a policy on cultural diversity should be mindful of global disparities that may have a direct bearing on cultural industries in developing countries. The promotion of cultural diversity is not intended to further entrench these disparities but to spell out the terms on which cross-cultural dialogue and creativity may be fostered.

Prasad stressed the need to recognise and move towards cross-cultural exchanges and at the same time promote and preserve heritage and culture. "These are not mutually exclusive objectives, they can be pursued simultaneously, the need is, to strike the right balance," he added. He pointed out that often developing countries face enormous development challenges and it is difficult to balance between development priorities and cultural needs.

"Most countries now recognise the need to balance these priorities. We in India consider diversity as essential to progress and enrichment," he said.

The two-day conference in Bangkok is organised as a preparation for the International Telecommunication Union Conference to be held later this year. The other issues discussed at the Conference include Aspects of Globalisation, Public Service Broadcasting and Global Digital Divide-How Does It Affect The Region.

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