Media distribution infra needs to change: Star India CEO Uday Shankar

NEW DELHI: Lack of infrastructure is impacting the media and entertainment industry and improving its current state could fuel growth in the sector, top media executives have said.

Star India CEO Uday Shankar said, “The distribution infrastructure of the industry has to change. There needs to be fundamental transformation in terms of screens for films, cable networks for television and digital infrastructure advertising."

Shankar was addressing the session on ‘How a flourishing M&E industry can deliver on India’s dream of Growth, Equity and Jobs’ during a two-day meet to mark the 89th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Shankar is also the chairman of FICCI Media and Entertainment Committee.

In his closing remarks, Shankar said that lack of infrastructure, which was crucial for the industry was the major obstacle for growth, and improving the existing scenario by fixing few issues could fuel growth. “This is because it has the ability to employ and integrate people at the margins of the society,” he added.

The Indian Media and Entertainment industry is estimated to be worth around $18 billion, and employs about six million people.

However, he said the industry is unrecognized in terms of economic value and contribution to the country’s GDP, and represents only 0.9%. The lower contribution to the economy of the country is because the industry is stuck in a plethora of regulations including pricing of content, and lack of adequate infrastructure to monetise their content.

India Today Group chairman Aroon Purie, speaking on how the Media and Entertainment industry could deliver on India’s dream said that the television industry was impacted because of the regulations surrounding pricing of content and the disintegrated cable networks in the country. “Of the Rs 14,000 crore collected by the cable companies, only Rs 4,000 crore reaches the broadcaster,” Purie said.

Voicing similar concern on behalf of the film industry, FICCI Film Forum chairman Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra said that, though India produced around 1200 movies a year – the highest in the world – it could not monetise because of lack of theatres. “We want to have people’s theatres where the middle class family can go and watch movies at affordable prices,” Mehra said, adding that the higher number of screens directly translates into increase in revenue for film producers.

GroupM South Asia CEO C V L Srinivas said, with consumers increasingly moving to digital and social media, the government should look at integrating all its efforts in building digital infrastructure. “One-point agenda is: improving the digital infrastructure,” he added.

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