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Ficci Frames 2002 concludes; need for corporatisation, stamping out piracy principal threads of convention

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It ended as it had begun. With a call to corporatise or perish. The film industry that is. The other key issue - piracy being the single greatest threat that the entertainment industry is facing - about sums up the two recurring themes of the third edition of the annual global convention on the business of entertainment - Ficci Frames (Films Radio Audio-visuals Music Events and Shows) 2002, that ended this evening at the Renaissance Convention Centre, Powai, in Mumbai.

At the valedictory session marking the conclusion of Frames 2002, this was re-emphasised by all key speakers. Amit Khanna, chairman convergence committee, Ficci, KV Krishnamurthy, chairman, Bank of India, Michael Connors, senior V-P, Motion Pictures Association of America and Hema Malini, chairperson, National Film Development Corporation, all referred to one or both these issues in their speeches.

The concluding day's message tied in to what veteran south Indian actor Kamal Haasan said at the inauguration yesterday: that the industry needed to accept the inevitable - change. While making a strong case for corporatisation in the entertainment industry, he stressed the need to feed off the wolves of technology, rather than while also asking for more stringent anti-piracy laws.

That the government needed to put copy right laws in place and make punishment mandatory for using unauthorised content was also stressed.

Shushanto Roy of the Sahara Group - the Frames 2002 convention partner - pledged that Sahara would fully support Ficci Frame 2003 and said he was all for a permanent relationship being fostered.

Khanna summed up what the two days' deliberations had brought forth:

1)Unequivocal agreement that the industry has great growth potential (the Arthur Anderson report unveiled at the inauguration revealed that the industry had outperformed the projections it had set for itself at last years convention. The projected figures for this year was Rs 128 billion, but according to Anderson partner Farokh Balsara, the target reached was Rs 8 billion higher at Rs 136 billion).

2) Be professional or perish.

3) Need for a dis-intermediated world of entertainment.

4) Regulatory framework should put in place.

5) The industry needs to get its act together and take action against piracy.

6) The launch of the E-entertainment alliance.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra, Govind Swarup, principle secretary, culture, declared that the state government would back whatever is beneficial for the industry as it had done in the past.

And as a follow up to last year's announcement by the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), that it had set aside a Rs 1000 million corpus fund for film financing (of which Rs 700 million has already been disbursed) Bank of India chairman KV Krishnamurthy said his institution has budgeted Rs 500 million for the film industry. He however added a rider. There has to be discipline in budgeting, transparency and accountability.

Yash Chopra, chairman, entertainment committee, Ficci in his closing statement made one significant announcement: that Ficci Frames 2003 would be even bigger next time round. It is to be held over three days instead of the current two - the dates being 14, 15 and 16 March 2003.

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