Government plans to increase funds for M&E industry: CII

MUMBAI: Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore assured the media and entertainment (M&E) industry that the government policies would be supportive and calibrated to enhance the modernisation and monetisation of the sector.


Addressing the fourth edition of the CII Big Picture Summit 2015 in New Delhi, Rathore said, ?In phase II of the auction of the frequencies for the radio, there was no provision for broadcasting news. This was changed during the phase III auction, when private radio was allowed to broadcast the news of the All India Radio (AIR) for a specified time.?


Rathore mentioned that a lot of initiatives were being taken by the government to support the M&E industry in the country, such as channelising more advertisements to the digital media like YouTube, outsourcing some of the creative works of Doordarshan and AIR to the industry. More such steps would be taken in due course.


In this regard, plans are underway to revamp the terrestrial broadcast of DD to couple it with internet and DTH so that there would be opportunities for making local programs based on events happening in smaller towns and rural areas. This would also give a boost to creation of contents, which have local flavour and relevance. 


Acknowledging the industry demand that the monetisation of the M&E segment had not kept pace with the requirements, Rathore disclosed that the government had proposed to set up a university to develop soft skills needed for the industry.


This university would specialise in providing skills to students in areas like gaming, animation and other avenues of creative pursuits relevant to the industry. He wanted industry to take a lead in this endeavour and create centers of excellence, which would enable the M&E industry to reach $100 billion by 2025. He also said that industry support was imperative to improve the content and appeal of the programs and for training media professionals.


Responding to a suggestion made by the industry to bring down high incidence of tax levied on the M&E industry, the Minister said that the Good and Services Tax (GST), which the Government wanted to enact would have subsumed various taxes incidental on the industry. He hoped that the bill would be passed soon in the interest of the nation.


Rathore observed that the Government was keen to create a single window clearance for shooting films in India, which could enhance the monetisation and profitability of the industry. He wanted CII to come out with a plan for creating a dynamic eco system for the film industry to flourish. At the same time, he said that inadequate number of cinema halls in India as compared to countries like the US and China could be more to do with real estate prices.


Ministry of I&B special secretary J S Mathur said, ?The process of digitisation in the M&E sector was at a higher pace and would show results in the coming years. He was of the opinion that smart phones, which could carry large quantum of data including films, news bulletins etc. would redefine the digital space in India.?


He also mentioned that the Government was in the process of finalising the draft of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which would enable more and more people to invest in India in various segments like content creation, production, animation, and gaming. 


Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar opined that a consortium approach should be followed by the industry and the Government to promote the convergence in the M&E industry to realise its potentials. He suggested that a shared approach should be there among the players to make use of the vast infrastructure of the government through innovative schemes that would put to use smart phones as carriers of innovative contents.


CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment and Group CEO, Viacom 18 Group CEO and CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment chairman Sudhanshu Vats pitched for easing of doing business and greater application of convergence of technology to tap the potentials of the industry. Monetisation of the industry can be enhanced through proper government support to the industry.


Narrating the problems being faced by the M&E sector, Star India COO Sanjay Gupta said that bandwidth problems, high cost, high taxes etc were adversely affecting the growth of M&E industry. He wanted a supportive policy regime to help the industry reach $100 billion mark by 2025.

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