MIB favours self-regulation, TRAI says some regulation mandatory

NEW DELHI: Even as he favoured the idea of self-regulation in the media, Minister for Information and Broadcasting (MIB) M Venkaiah Naidu stressed that “regulation should not become strangulation” and added the government wants to be a facilitator for creating a good business environment for the media and entertainment (M&E) sector.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of 5th edition of CII-organised `Big Picture Summit’ at New Delhi here yesterday Naidu said that digital and mobile tools have been leading to paradigm shifts in the M&E sector and the growth of varied platforms such as 4G, broadband, mobile technologies and digital media has enabled the sector to move towards “convergence across platforms and content”.

According to the Minister, 500 million mobile phones were expected in India by 2020 and music streaming had grown from 49 per cent to 61 per cent in just one year with video on demand gaining popularity as number of internet connections had grown to 81 million of which 41 million used local languages. “The entertainment industry was today capable of creating five billion jobs a year,” he said.

Referring to the broadcast segment, the MIB Minister said Indian television was very vibrant and exciting, which is exemplified in the over 800 TV channels licensed by the government.

Dwelling on some initiatives taken by the government to boost the M&E sector, Naidu said that foreign direct investment norms had been liberalized further earlier in the year with an aim to help the industry grow. Similarly, the Minister said, the radio category too has shown impressive growth and the third Phase of auctions of Radio FM licenses was expected to bring in $390 million.

While he was impressed with the growth achieved by cinema --- India produced more films than any other country in the world --- Naidu took note of a big problem of less number of screens in the country and that Indian cinema had a share of less than one per cent in world cinema.

Expressing his concerns on the growth of the media, the Minister highlighted that there were some problems that had been inherited by this government and that those would take some time to be resolved as he plans to hold separate meetings with all stakeholders.

TRAI Says Regulatory Framework Necessary For Big M&E Sector

While MIB made a case for self-regulation, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman R S Sharma said some regulatory framework was necessary for such a large media sector, but regulations should be non-discriminatory, transparent, ensure quality and empower the consumer.

Speaking at the inaugural session, along with the Minister and industry representatives, Sharma said India was a very cost-effective market where the average mobile recharge was just Rs 10. As connectivity had to be cost-effective and price-sensitive, cable television can be used to provide broadband connectivity as well.

Holding forth on audience measurement, Sharma said there was still scope for better audience measurement systems as it was important to let the consumer decide what he wanted.

As TRAI has a recommendatory role in the broadcast sector, except the carriage part where its recommendations can be implemented by it, Sharma also highlighted that several set of recommendations by the regulator on a variety of issues were pending at the Ministry concerned.

Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats’ On Disruption & Competition

Amongst the pantheon of Indian gods and goddesses, the Trinity of  Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv hold a special place as they ensure the world, as we know it, goes through a cycle of creation, preservation and destruction to continue growing and surviving. Is this also true for a business sector? Yes!

Dwelling on the theme of the two-day media conference, ‘Embracing Disruption to Stay Competitive’, Sudhanshu Vats, Chairman of National Committee on Media & Entertainment, CII and Group CEO, Viacom18, said if the cycle, as highlighted in the Indian Trinity or to some extent in economist Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction, is not followed by businesses (including those in the M&E sector), it’d be disrupted

“Our systems discourage destruction. In our minds we have this notion that the word ‘destruction’ itself is wrong. But if you look back, our belief system has always emphasised on the need to destroy. If we don’t destroy, then we will be disrupted,” Vats said setting the tone for the Big Picture Summit and emphasizing the need for a well-balanced mix of all three --- creators, preservers and destroyers.

Vats went on to give some examples of the Big Picture Summit’s theme of disruption or reinvention to stay relevant and competitive, which are as follows:

-    It’s a theme that explains how the sport of cricket reinvented itself 8 years ago to create a completely new avatar (called the IPL) that is arguably it’s most lucrative and successful one till date.

-    It’s a theme that explains how a new Hindi GEC called Colors launched in 2008 and became number 1 in just 9 months of launch.

-    It’s a theme that probably explains how a government owned distribution platform known as DD FreeDish revolutionized the world of Indian television so much so that it is a topic of conversation in the boardroom of every M&E organization.

-    It’s a theme that explains how a show idea rejected by MTV, led to the creation of one of India’s most iconic YouTube channels: The Viral Fever.

-    It’s also a theme that explains why a telco called AT&T is expected to close a deal to acquire a media conglomerate called Time Warner in what is amongst this year’s biggest acquisitions.  “Of course, I’d like to see this as ‘convergence in action’,” explained Vats.

Dwelling on some industry vital stats --- based on knowledge partner Boston Consulting Group’s yearly report for the event --- Vats said the M&E industry’s size had been pegged at approximately Rs. 13, 000,00 million, almost one per cent of the Indian GDP with a direct employment base of half a million.

“If we look at indirect employment, the number will multiply several times over. If we look at employment in sectors in which we have a multiplier effect, say telecom, tourism, sports and so on, and we are looking at a much larger base. If we have to, say, double in size (and this is not impossible)... then there are three fundamental truths that we need to prepare for. Bear in mind, that none of these can be leveraged if we fear ‘destruction’. Each of these truths has significant implications for us,” Vats elucidated.

Vats also dwelt on several issues ranging from the need to develop direct-to-consumer offerings, importance of listening to suggestions and ideas, benefits of discovering new talents and embracing technology and data as a friend and not foe, apart from several other issues, including the need to put aside squabbles amongst stakeholders in the M&E sector.

However, not the one to every shy away from making a factual statement, even though it may sound contentious, Vats aptly said the M&E sector was amongst the biggest stars of the PM Modi’s  `Make in India’ programme. “In the last two years, India has seen 35 new smart-phone factories, with a production capacity of 18 million devices per month and employment to 37,000 Indians. While the focus here – at least in the popular context- is on telecom handset manufacturing, think what is the use of the smart-phone with a 5-inch screen if you don’t have video content? I have no qualms in stating that our industry will play the biggest role in the 4G revolution that this country is about to witness,” he concluded.

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