NEW DELHI: The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has called for constitution of a task force for improving screen density in India. This is also to ensure that entertainment tax is fully subsumed in the GST without creating a window for its levy at the local level.
In a road map presented to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, FICCI expressed confidence that this would provide the much-needed boost to the Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector.
A delegation led by FICCI president Sidharth Birla stated that the M&E sector had tremendous potential for dynamic growth and multiplier effect on employment generation without much spending from the public exchequer.
The ‘Policy Roadmap for the Media and Entertainment Sector in India’ comprises key recommendations for the television, film, print, radio, Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming & Comics (AVGC) and live events sectors.
In a move that will cause a lot of consternation among working journalists, the industry body has called for abolition of the Wage Board Act for the print sector and for urgent announcement of fiscal relief measures for newspapers.
The roadmap calls for early enactment of the amended Cinematograph Bill so that the rights of all stakeholders can be protected.
In the television broadcast sector, FICCI wants relaxation in FDI limits in news broadcasting and infrastructure status to the cable sector, apart from smooth and orderly implementation of digitisation.
The body urged the government to ensure that the process of auctions under FM Radio Phase III rolls out smoothly without any further delays. The auctions should be completed by September or October this year and Phase II licenses which expire from April 2015 are extended well before the end-date.
Referring to reduction in channel separation, the government must immediately accept Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s recommendations so that an FM revolution can be brought about. A larger number of radio stations will also mean more job creation and a much wider programming variety for the people of each city. The chamber has also called for allowing news in an unrestrained manner and increasing FDI in FM radio to 49 per cent.
For the AVGC Sector, it has recommended creation of an investment fund, incubation and market development fund, tax relief, skills and talent development, co-production treaties and focus on kids’ channel in terrestrial broadcasting space.
FICCI expressed its gratitude to the Minister on his announcement regarding the launch of a dedicated channel for kids and animation content on the national broadcaster Doordarshan.
Given the vast and intensive reach of Doordarshan across the country, this initiative will – by popularising kids and animation content – create a demand for original intellectual properties in the sector provide an enormous boost to its growth. Indian kids’ and animation content has long been battling the challenge of outpacing global competitors – and a dedicated forum for distribution such as an exclusive channel from the national public broadcaster will act as a boon for the sector.
FICCI expressed the hope that appropriate steps will be taken soon by Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan to make the vision of a kids and animation channel in the public broadcasting space a reality in the very near future.
It has been asking for creation of a dedicated kids and animation channel from Doordarshan for several years, and has been lobbying this initiative at various levels in the Ministry, as well as with Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan. FICCI had even taken a delegation of industry stakeholders to the Prasar Bharati CEO, a couple of years earlier and made a presentation for a dedicated kids channel by Doordarshan.
The benefits of a ‘DD Kids’ Channel’ would be manifold: not only would it be instrumental in catalysing original IP creation for animation and kids’ content in the country but also serve as a medium for the dissemination of content that is uniquely Indian in its cultural ethos.
While Indian myths and tales continue to be of interest to children in India today, broadcast content for children and animated shows continue to be largely dominated by foreign-made IPs.
Thus, the launch of a kids and animation channel by the national public broadcaster would ensure greater exposure for Indian-made content, which would in turn give a new lease of life to diverse value-based indigenous stories and allow for their packaging in attractive formats that appeal to today’s children.
The initiative will serve as a reinvigoration of our country’s rich cultural heritage and help inculcate quintessentially Indian mores and ethics in the young minds of India – compensating in some measure for the lost art of storytelling in today’s nuclear-family-dominant society.