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FICCI FRAMES: Prasad says -Indian broadcast industry needs an improved rating system

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Mumbai, 30 March: Communication & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said the Digital India initiative of the Government is a $ 1 trillion business opportunity across IT and IT enabled services, telecom and electronics manufacturing.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 17th edition of FICCI Frames Media & Entertainment Industry Conclave, Prasad said Digital India is aimed at empowering the citizens of India digitally.

He said nearly $400 billion will be added from the electronics manufacturing including mobile phones, solar panels etc, while a $ 350 billion opportunity will be presented by the IT and ITES sector. The Communication services will provide business opportunities of $ 250 billion.

The Minister said: “the aspirational urge of Indians is driving the digital world in a phenomenal way. And the Government’s job is to create an enabling eco-system for its growth.”

Speaking about the Media & Entertainment Industry, Prasad who had been the Information Minister under Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said Indian content has a global reach and “we must utilize its strength to depict virtues of our rich cultural heritage”. Prasad suggested that the epic stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata should be taken to the world via quality film making.

Prasad said the Government recognized the importance and relevance of promoting media and entertainment industry. Hence, visa processes were being eased for film shootings.

A National Centre of Excellence was coming up for the media and entertainment industry and a new film facilitation office was also being set up.

He added that a new category in the National Film Awards - Most Film Friendly State – had been introduced to felicitate the state that provides greater access to the film industry.

He said with the spread of internet new platforms were emerging which would lead to change in business models.

The Minister asserted at the same time that Internet should remain democratic, plural and inclusive. “Internet is the finest creation of human mind, it should not be abused by few,” he said.

Stressing that the television rating system must improve, Prasad said he was not impressed with TAM’s alternative – BARC - either.

It was imperative for the television rating data to be more fair and reasonable. “I was not impressed by the TAM, and I am not impressed by the alternative too. How can a few thousand boxes determine what India is watching?” he asked. He said there was a need for a structured, fair and reasonable system to allow creation of quality content.

He said several of his government initiatives like Skill India, Stand Up India, Aadhar roll out, Make in India, and Smart Cities involve enormous use of digital technology.

“If the industry needs more policy initiatives, the government is open to it,” the Minister asserted.

Prasad said with 250,000 gram panchayats being connected through Optic Fiber Network, the entire country was being brought under the broadband regime.

He claimed that India is now the second largest mobile phone market. The internet penetration had reached 400 million, with 60% of it being mobile internet. He also said that India with one billion mobile phone connections had overtaken the United States to becomethe second largest mobile phone market in the world behind China.

He asserted that with successful Aadhar enrolment, the government has been able to save Rs 15,000 crore through direct delivery of subsidies.

Driving home the importance of Digital India and the opportunities it was offering, the Minister cited examples of a mathematics teacher-cum-App maker from Rajasthan, and a 68 year old person from Telangana who became digitally literate in order to communicate with her grandson in Dubai through skype. He said “Indians first watch, then adopt, enjoy and become empowered”.

 India’s talent combined with the power of Information Technology would act as a springboard to launch India into the big league, said Prasad.

He ended by expressing his unhappiness towards the rating system in India, "I was never happy with TAM and I am not very happy with BARC either, I request Uday and the industry to have an improved rating system" he concluded

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