Close supply side gaps to crub film piracy: Asha Swarup

Mumbai: "The Government does not favor the recommendations of the draft optical disk policy on combating piracy as the suggestions by industry would lead to the creation of a regime of inspectors that would go against the grain of the policy of liberalization," Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting secretary Asha Swarup mentioned at the inaugural session of FICCI-FRAMES 2008.
FICCI FRAMES 2008 kicked off in Mumbai today. The inaugural session also saw the release of the FICCI-PwC report on the Indian entertainment industry and the FICCI Amarchand Mangaldas Law book.
Swarup, while acknowledging that the menace of piracy in the entertainment and media industry was huge, said the problem had to be tackled by closing the supply side gaps. A possible way, she said, was to release films and ‘C’ and ‘D’ class towns on digital formats. The secretary noted the observations by FICCI MP & President Rajeev Chandrasekhar; FICCI Entertainment Committee & Yash Raj Films chairman Yash Chopra; and FICCI Entertainment Committee co-chairman & Multi Screen Media CEO Kunal Dasgupta.
To the concern expressed on piracy and banning of films, Swarup pointed out that it was unfortunate that recent films like Jodhaa Akbar and Aaja Nach Le have met with this fate after having been cleared by the Censor Board of India. "The I&B Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, will see how best we can tackle the issue," she assured the delegates.
Over 2500 Indian and foreign delegates from 17 countries are attending the three-day FICCI-FRAMES 2008. Foreign representation comes from countries like Australia, Canada, France Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, UAE, the UK, USA, Korea, Switzerland, and New Zealand.
FICCI-FRAMES 2008 unfolds against the backdrop of a 17 per cent growth in the Indian Entertainment & Media (E&M) industry in 2007 over the previous year. The industry reached an estimated size of Rs 513 billion (Rs 51,300 crores) in 2007, up from Rs 438 billion in 2006. In the last four years 2004-2007, the industry recorded a cumulative growth of 19 per cent on an overall basis, according to the FICCI- PwC Report on Indian Entertainment and Media Industry 2008.
The inaugural session was also addressed by European Commission European commissioner, information society & media Viviane Reding; Canada assistant deputy minister, investment, innovation and sectors, foreign affairs and international trade Stewart Beck; Ambassador of Switzerland to India Dominique Dreyer; and Reliance Entertainment chairman and FICCI Convergence Committee chairman Amit Khanna.
Swarup expressed satisfaction that Pakistani films were being released in India and Indian films like Taare Zameen Par were getting an entry into Pakistan. She hoped that with a new democratic government in place in Pakistan, the situation will further improve and more Indian films would be screened in that country.
She emphasized the need for development of content for TV viewers, especially for children. Currently, TV content was focused on just a small section of the viewers, she said, and called for innovative content for all sections of the viewers.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, in his address, noted that the entertainment industry today had a reached a point of critical mass from the early goals of nine years ago. "I believe that this industry is poised to achieve the scale and size required to be global in terms of its value and presence," he said.
The challenge for the entertainment industry over the next few years, he said, was to scale up and become globally relevant – relevant to the capital markets and investors, relevant to consumers of entertainment all over the world and to producers of entertainment all over the world.
"Scaling up for entrepreneurial companies is not a trivial task – It requires a mind set and approach that’s quite different from the proprietary approach to running companies. I look forward to the day where just like we have names like Infosys and TCS in infotech and software services, and Reliance and Airtel in telecom services, we can also have entertainment industry names and brands that are globally relevant," he said.
He also said that the biggest challenge to scaling up the industry was the issue of human assets. The government, he said, must look into this issue as a critical focus area and look at rapidly creating capacity in terms of either new institutes in the country or partnerships with neighboring institutions.
Yash Chopra, while addressing the growth in the entertainment and media space, appealed to the industry to fight piracy. "The problem of piracy is very real and we have to collectively fight it," said Chopra.
Dasgupta, on the other hand, cited the example of the recent film Jab We Met to drive home the point of the changing market dynamics. "The movie’s legitimate DVD sales have been that of 8 million so far. This is a record in itself and moreover, being legitimate sales, has benefited Moser Baer, which released the home video of the film.
Additionally, the satellite rights of the film were also sold on a per screening basis to various broadcasters. The entire cost of production of the film was recovered one and a half times over in television rights alone," he said.
He added, "There will be at least 600 new channels in the next five years. India is the hottest market to be in at present. From a content point of view, we are on a roll. However, our biggest concern is that our rating system is not good enough to capture the nuances of the actual audience share."