Optical disc law to curb piracy being studied: I&B secretary

MUMBAI: The draft of the proposed Optical Disc Law to check piracy in the Indian film sector is being examined by the Information & Broadcasting ministry.

However, according to information available with Businessofcinema.com, the law, which was initially supposed to be brought into effect by December this year, is likely to get delayed to early next year.

The draft law has been prepared by the members of film sector at the initiative of government of India. The government has also been encouraging digital exhibition as it helps access the market easily, said I&B secretary Asha Swarup, while speaking at the “India – The Big Picture Conference 2007,” organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Goa today.

Swarup added that the government is attempting to enhance the benefits relating to custom duty also for this sector as digitalization reduces the cost of distribution of films and also helps films in reaching B and C category centres faster, besides acting as a deterrent to piracy.

The I&B ministry is also actively pursuing the creation of a National Centre for Excellence in Animation, Gaming and Visual Effects with a view to promote this emerging sector. The ministry of Human Resource Development has been also requested to include these sectors in the curricula, at colleges and ITIs.

Swarup added that the government’s initiative of setting up an Export Promotion Council for the entertainment sector has been well received and the Indian film industry under the lead of the Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India has come forward to form the Export Promotion Council.

She assured the industry of the continued government support in helping the film industry grow at a faster pace and participating in foreign film festivals and markets. “For a very long time films were also our best known exports. Though the audience have largely been the Indian disapora, we seem to be gradually developing audience among different cultures as well,” she said.

Film co-production agreements have already been signed with Italy, Germany, Brazil and the UK. Swarup said, “Discussions with the Government of UK for the Annex to the co-production agreement have come to conclusion and we are hopeful of signing this when the Prime Minister bilateral negotiations take place in January next year.”

The secretary said that the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy for the film industry, which allows 100 per cent FDI on the automatic route, coupled with professionalisation and corporation of Indian production houses is likely to attract large foreign investments in the fields of production, distribution and exhibition. “Compared to other parts of the world, the Indian industry has withstood the onslaught of foreign films rather successfully until now, and has grown substantially in size. At present 18 per cent annual rate of growth, the entertainment and media industry size is expected to reach Rs 1 trillion in 2011. The share of the filmed entertainment industry, which is presently Rs 84 billion is expected to reach Rs 175 billion over the next five years at a cumulative annual growth rate of 16 per cent,” she said. Swarup also urged the film and entertainment industry to come forward with their suggestions for taking these sectors ahead and in enhancing their strong points.

Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat in his remarks, appreciated the role of CII in highlighting Goa destination of IFFI. He further said, IFFI would help Goa in expanding his role in entertainment industry.