FICCI Frames 2020


The concluding session of the 5th Edition of FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Pictures Association, was on content, technology & business models that will shape the future of digital services. The session was moderated by Mr. Prashanth Rao, Partner & Leader, M & E Consulting and featured a panel with industry experts Mr. Karthik Nagarajan, Head-Content, Wavemaker, Mr. Vinit Mehta, Director-New Business, Brightcove, Mr. Saugata Mukherjee, Head of Original Content – SonyLIV, and Ms. Kranti Gada, Chief Operating Officer, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited.

In a year of unprecedented change, the session shifted the lens to the future of the streaming ecosystem to explore the potential of the industry, how it will shape up and what needs to be done to ensure systemic growth for industry players as well as audiences.

While the panel unanimously agreed that the online content industry will see growth, and that market penetration in rural consumption is also exceeding expectations, several challenges were flagged.

Ms. Kranti Gada highlighted a key reason for churn in users was a gap between intent to consume & sampling of platforms and the challenges in payment systems to enable long term accessibility. She said that currently the cost of reaching a mass audience is quite high. Different styles of content are required for SVOD vs AVOD etc.

Mr. Saugata Mukherjee noted a shift from long-form content to “bingeworthy” content that should further increase audience retention and engagement. He shared that SonyLIV is adapting a defined content strategy. For the time being, they are staying away from big-ticket films and are choosing content which is target oriented.

The panel also noted how the evolution of viewing devices influences creators and services to reimagine new content but also how to integrate advertisers into ecosystem to unlock additional revenue streams.

Further, Mr. Vinit Mehta touched upon the subject of a more advanced technology ecosystem including scalable, accessible and reliable technology to improve viewer experience.

To conclude, the future of the industry appears positive and promising. We are seeing good habits forming when it comes to consuming content on demand, on the go and at convenience, and most importantly audiences are willing to pay. With ease of entry, competition in this space will increase which is only healthy for the industry. The survivors will be the ones that have the right recipe combining content, technology and the team behind it.


FICCI Frames 2020


Moderating the session ‘Digital content regulation: Learning from best global practices’ at FICCI’s Knowledge Series FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Picture Association, Ms. Vanita Kohli Khandekar, Contributing Editor – Business Standard, said in her opening remarks that while bringing OTT under the Ministry of Information & Broadcast is a perfectly logical and expected move, it is necessary to know what consequences the industry might expect from the change.

The panel agreed that there needs to be regulation, and that having clear guidelines in regulation is desirable to all. However, Mr. Ajay Chacko, Co- Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Arré, said that it was important to not regulate with the sole aim of establishing parity between two mediums – such as broadcast television vs VoD.

Mr. Tarun Katial, Chief Executive Officer, ZEE5 India, and co-chair for Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), said that the government has always encouraged the industry to come up with a self-regulation code and has also been supportive of content diversity. He added that 80-90% of the industry members have agreed to, and signed, the code. “I think we have to see the government in the light of the support it has given to this sector and let it flourish to this point”, he concluded. Mr. Karan Bedi, Chief Executive Officer – MX Player, agreed that the discussion has come a long way and it’s only a matter of time when it comes up with a standard accepted by all.

Mr. Gourav Rakshit, Chief Operating Officer, VOOT, said that the ability to narrowcast an audience allows the industry to provide content that is consistent, and the code takes the existing frameworks forward, not a step backwards. There is a need to centralise so that there is uniformity. Taking responsibility while telling impactful stories is very important.

Mr. Sanjeev Lamba, Executive Producer, Hungama Originals, pointed out that having an informed audience, free to make their own choices, was as important as establishing clear and consistent guidelines in self-regulation.

Mr. Vivan Sharan, Partner – Koan Advisory Group, said that the industry needs to ensure that the code doesn’t limit creative freedom, but furthers it. He added that while there is no question that minors need to be protected from harmful content online, when it comes to adults, the state needs to look at who the reasonable average person in India is and what will offend them. This should be done before creating a negative list of exceptions for everything that should be allowed for adults.

When asked if statutory approval for a self-regulation code make sense, Mr. Katial responded that the government needs to be satisfied that the self-regulation code the industry comes up with works, so that they won’t have to step in to regulate, argue in a court of law, or interfere in its implementation.

Ms. Vanita Kohli Khandekar concluded by saying that in the end what matters is quality content reaching audiences and the hope is that it continues to happen.

FICCI Frames 2020


Titled ‘Digital India Copyright Act – Redefining the Future of Creative Works’, the 2nd session of 5th Edition of FAST TRACK DIGITAL, organised by FICCI and presenting partner, the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), delved deep into the various aspects of the Copyright Act of 1957.

Moderating the session, Mr. Trevor Fernandes, Vice President, Govt. Affairs – Asia Pacific, MPA, emphasised the need to protect the intellectual property rights to highlight the importance of content protection. He also applauded the growth of the Indian market in recent decades, and was confident that the MPA’s effort in this space, would complement and have a positive impact the market.

On the topic of amendments in the Copyright Act of 1957, Mr. Fernandes said that while revisiting an Act that was last reviewed in 2012 was justified, he cautioned that 2020 was not the time to rush changes without very careful deliberation and policy calibration.

Mr. Ameet Datta, Partner – Sai Krishna Associates, saw room to improve enforcement against digital piracy and make enforcement more timely in the new global digital era. He praised the Delhi High Court for being innovative where site blocking is concerned, and he also applauded the MPA for taking a lead in helping the courts to develop their jurisprudence. He also made suggestions about how the industry and Government can collaborate so that resources are well spent for better solutions. More broadly he said that the Copyright Act could also include modalities to fight digital piracy.

Mr. Anil Lale, General Counsel, Viacom18, added that piracy needs to be tackled more stringently as it’s more than infringement, and hurts the creative economy a lot. Mr. Ritesh Khosla, Deputy General Counsel, Sony Pictures Networks India, agreed with the rest of the panel that piracy and copyright infringement are eroding revenues for all major industry players. He then drew attention to the need of defining piracy clearly in the Copyright Act, which is not currently the case. He urged that the government look at piracy as an economic offence.

Talking about the efforts of MPA and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), Mr. Uday Singh, Managing Director, MPA India, said, “The MPA and ACE has been set up as an answer to this multi-jurisdictional and shape-shifting problem, where it tries to stimulate a legitimate marketing environment for our businesses and also to raise the cost for the pirate to do business and reduce the cost for our legitimate players. Multiple jurisdictions have tried to put voluntary measures in place and what we have been able to achieve with the Telegram Monitoring Project (TMP) is a very good step in that direction.”

Mr. Fernandes concluded the session by referring to one of MPA’s longstanding efforts in India – the clamp down on camcording content in cinemas, and what it means in this newly digitised entertainment world. Mr. Singh said, “The uphill battle continues. Last, we appeared before the parliamentary committee and the recommendations have already gone through. And though there will be Covid 19-related delays. In the end it is just a small provision in the Cinematograph Act which will hopefully cross the line in the parliamentary session now scheduled for January 2021.

FICCI Frames 2020

FICCI Frames Day 5 : Putting Covid Behind Us: The Way Forward

E-Frames 2020 concluded on July 11 with a valedictory address by Mr. Piyush Goyal, the Union Minister for Commerce and Railways. Opening the session, Ms. Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI, gave an overview of the rapid strides India’s media and entertainment sector has made in the last few years. She said that India produces the largest number of films in the world, has improved its gaming and animation capabilities, and that many international studios now use Indian talent. Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of the Producers Guild of India, said that these were strange times for the media and entertainment sector. He added that while, film and TV production has come to a halt, people’s appetite for entertainment has only grown. High viewership numbers on TV and OTT platforms are proof of this increase in consumption.

Mr. Kapur said that these  “very tough times” required government support. “Our industry in India requires capital and while we understand that government can’t give us capital, it can help us get access to it,” he added. In the long run, Mr. Kapur said, that India’s screen density needed to increase. “At present there’s a lot of disparity. Some cities that oversaturated with movie halls and there’s a woefully inadequate number of screens in others. Government support to address this problem might herald a renaissance,” he added.

Mr. Kapur also spoke about issues of self-censorship on OTT platforms and easing the process of shooting films in India. He said that…

..OTT platforms gave content creators an opportunity to create web series and TV shows that were at par with global standards.

To ensure that such creativity flourished, he advocated for self-regulation by the industry, rather than a centralized regulator. Mr. Kapur added that to ease the process of shooting films in India, states should offer incentives to the industry and offer single window clearances. It’ll help boost tourism and popularize Indian destinations abroad, he added.

Mr. D Suresh Babu, a leading producer of Telugu films, agreed with Mr. Kapur and said it would be helpful if there was one ministry in each state and at the Centre that dealt with creative businesses.

World is now divided between before-Covid and after-Covid: Piyush Goyal

In his valedictory address, Mr. Goyal acknowledged that the media and entertainment industry was hit severely by the Covid-19 crisis. But, he added, that…

..this was also an opportunity for the sector to think out of the box, redesign frameworks of doing business and come up with new ways of filmmaking.

He gave the example of animated movies, and said that these have potential to do better than traditional films. Mr. Goyal also thanked the film industry for spreading awareness about the COVID-19 disease and the ways in which people can protect themselves. The time now, he said, is to move towards opening up and resuming business activities with all protective measures in place.

Mr. Goyal agreed that a lot more needed to be done to ease the process of shooting movies in India.

He urged FICCI to spearhead the process of creating a single form that could be sent to multiple agencies to grant film permissions and added that his ministry will facilitate the process.

Mr. Goyal also asked the industry to consider building an online platform that whistleblowers can use to highlight piracy. He added that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) can also help the industry to back such a venture. Other measures to curb piracy could include an increase in penalties and a tightening of existing rules.

On self-regulation of OTT platforms, Mr. Goyal said that he was in favour of creative freedom but it can’t be an excuse to portray India in poor light.

Mr. Goyal underlined that any self-regulation must ensure that the cultural ethos of the country is maintained.

Finally, Mr. Goyal urged the industry to consider providing a social security net to the people it employs. “There must be some effort to offer minimum wage, healthcare, pensions and insurance to the 26 lakh people who the industry works with, directly or indirectly. It would be useful to create a database of such people to ensure that everyone gets a fair wage,” he said.

FICCI Frames 2020

FICCI Frames Day 4 : At the heart (and wallet) of the matter

“A vibrant content market benefits the national economy. The investment that goes into producing TV shows & movies helps drive jobs, wages & trades”

 -Trevor Fernandes, VP Govt Affairs – APAC, Motion Picture Association

The Protection of intellectual property (IP) is essential for the creative economy, as creators and producers depend on effective monetization for revenue. It assumes a central role as exclusivity of content is the unique selling point on any platform. In this context, the session on “Ensuring a Fair Marketplace for the Creative Economy in a Digital First Marketplace,  moderated by Vivan Sharan, Partner, Koan Advisory looked at the creative economy’s challenges and how to solve them. The session compared developments in countries like the United States and South Korea to gauge the standard of IP protection in India.

IP Priorities and Approaches:

Jehil Thakkar, Partner and Leader, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte kicked off the session by launching a new report ‘Economic impact of the film, television, and online video services industry in India’. The report recommends sustaining the Ease of Doing Business push in the country via incentives, subsidies and strong enforcement measures. Mr. Fernandes appreciated the government’s initiatives to accede to the WCT and WPPT by the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the proposed amendment to the Cinematograph Act. He added that the government should align domestic law with international principles, strengthen access to IPR protection and penalise infringement.

Deepti Kotak, Chief Legal Officer, Media Businesses, Reliance Industries Limited said that…

she is excited about new technologies such as geo-blocking, watermarking and fingerprinting, which protects IP.

Anil Lale, General Counsel, Viacom18 Media Private Limited distinguished between regulation on legacy media vis-a-vis digital media. He said that while digital platforms arrive at pricing based on market principles, overregulation in legacy broadcasting has stifled the freedom of commercial negotiation. Lale added that as a consequence, digital platforms are surging while niche content on television is dying a slow death.

Ameet Datta, Partner, Saikrishna & Associates clarified the difference between the legislature’s and the judiciary’s roles in formulating IP policy.

He said that the courts interpret laws and Parliament’s objective should be to keep them broad enough and, at the same time, provide definitional clarity.

Priyanka Joshi, IP attorney with the Indian Music Industry said that the Copyright Amendment in 2012 led to more concerns than solutions. Taejin Lee, Regional Director for the Philippines at the Korea Copyright Protection Agency said that even in South Korea collaboration between stakeholders and government is prioritised.

The Way Forward:

Mr. Fernandes’ view is that the next challenge to effective IP protection will be to find a balance between privacy on platforms with end-to-end encryption and enabling content creators to obtain fair value for content. Mr. Lale reiterated the need to align with the global regime on IP enforcement as well as the need to tackle piracy effectively. Mr. Datta said that Indian courts have been creative in finding solutions to tackle piracy, referring to the recent order by the Delhi High Court on IP infringement. The Court passed a dynamic injunction allowing content owners to approach the Registrar of the High Court to block different URLs of the same pirate. Ms. Joshi said that it is imperative to foster amicable relations between stakeholders in the sector for a free-flowing licensing and royalties regime. In South Korea, the KCPA is looking to draft a legislation similar to the Music Modernization Act in the USA, Mr. Lee said.

Key Takeaways

  1. There is good reason to evaluate the need for a central agency for copyright enforcement in India, to implement John Doe Orders, the Infringing Websites List and dynamic injunctions.
  2. Despite the creative industry lagging behind countries like the US and South Korea, global best practices need to be monitored and implemented where necessary.
FICCI Frames 2020

FICCI Frames Day 4 : A Bumpy Ride Overseas

The success of movies like English Vinglish and Masaan across the world is proof that there is tremendous appetite for Indian cinema. The Sridevi-starrer told the story of a homemaker whose family mocked her for not knowing English. On a trip to New York City, Sridevi’s endearing character used her earnings from selling laddoos to secretly enroll for English language classes and emerges triumphant. English Vinglish received a five minute standing ovation at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was one of the top 10 Bollywood grossers overseas that year. Masaan, an Indo-French co-production that shed light on caste-based violence in small town India, won praise at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. However, the success of these unconventional movies is an exception rather than the norm. A lot needs to be done to break the perception that Indian movies are long, melodramatic marathons filled with song and dance.

Story, finance and visual design: foundation of success.

At E-Frames 2020, a panel of distributors and producers from India and the world came together to discuss Taking Indian Content to Global Markets. These included Ganesh Rajaram, EVP Sales ‑ Asia, Singapore, Fremantle International, Guneet Monga, Chief Executive Officer, Sikhya Entertainment, Alan R. Milligan, Chief Executive Officer – White Rabbit, Colin Burrows, Chief Executive Officer, Special Treats Productions, Francesca Manno, Chief Executive Officer,  Summerside International and Anna Katchko, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Tandem Productions. Stephan Ottenbruch, Festival Director, Indo German Film Festival moderated the discussion.

At the outset, Ms. Monga said that it was important to differentiate between stories that worked in India versus those that have a universal appeal. She added that producers of movies that have the potential of attracting audiences across the world, should be mindful of the film’s visual design, finance structure and storytelling style to give them a global appeal.

Ms. Monga also said too that co-productions play a major role in a film’s worldwide success. “Take Lunchbox, for example. It was able to break a lot of barriers because it was an Indo-French co-production,” she said.

Distinct genres, scripted shows and good marketing

Ms. Manno said that her’s is a small international films sales agency which looks for very specific and distinct films. The reason Summerside International doesn’t feature Indian movies on its list, is because it hasn’t found an independent producer in India who makes the kinds of films she scouts for, she said. Ms. Manno added that Bollywood productions are very commercial, and don’t fit into the editorial line her agency has adopted. The genre of films too has to be clear.

“Dramedies or black comedies are not easy to sell,” Ms. Manno added. “Clear genres help us target the film to a specific audience.”

Ms. Katchko added that sometimes, it was difficult to know which Indian films would work in the international market. In Russia, a big consumer of Hindi cinema, she added that some distributors had shut shop because they found movies to be too long. “Another problem is that there are multiple big events in India, and it is difficult to distinguish which one will be useful for us. Instead, there should be just one or two big international events people from overseas find useful,” Ms. Katchko suggested.

Mr. Rajaram of Fremantle International, which produces shows like India’s Got Talent and Indian Idol, said that his company’s focus is now more on scripted shows because they have a longer shelf life, especially on VOD platforms.

He added that so long as a show’s story is good, it doesn’t matter which language it is in. “My Brilliant Friend, for example, was an Italian show that aired on HBO+. In China, we had a bidding war for it. So scripted stories, told by people of their own countries, are the future,” he added.

Rajaram added that the marketing of films needs to focus on stories, not stars. “The marketing of English-Vinglish focused entirely on Sridevi, which completely missed the point,” he said. “My Chinese wife saw the movie and loved it. She had no idea about the actors in the film but she loved the story.” Mr. Burrows agreed with him and added that a star-centric marketing strategy may work in India but abroad, it will not.

Key takeaways

  1. Encourage the role of creative producers who will identify appropriate projects, structure stories and improve the film’s production design to appeal to global markets
  2. A movie’s marketing strategy overseas should focus on the story, not the star.
  3. Host only a couple of big international events with clear mandates, rather than multiple ones with unclear agendas. This will attract international producers, distributors and sales agents to scout for potential partners.
FICCI Frames 2020

FICCI Frames Day 3 : To Be or Not To Be

“The basic approach of TRAI in regulation has been a light-touch one. We believe that the market is the best determinant of products and service”

-R.S. Sharma, Chairman, TRAI

FICCI-EY’s 2020 Report on the M&E sector states that the New Tariff Order increased end-customer prices for television content, reduced the reach of certain genres of channels and resulted in a 6% reduction in the time spent watching television. This session on “Regulating Creativity: Overcoming Legacy Challenges to Shape the Future of M&E”, brought together perspectives from office-bearers who regulate various aspects of the sector. Moderated by Mr. Vivek Couto, Executive Director & Co-Founder – Media Partners Asia, the session looked at the role of each regulator, whether these roles should evolve with technological developments and how successful regulation in the sector has been.

Regulatory roles:

Ajit Pai said that his role as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is to ensure swift and widespread adoption of the ATSC 3.0 TV broadcasting standards, the latest WiFi 6 technology and 5G.  He anticipates competition between new avatars of content such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Gaming and traditional content in the future. R.S. Sharma, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India stressed that India’s regulatory priorities revolve around optimal use of public resources and democratised content creation in the sector. Other areas of focus include ensuring an even playing field and the best available viewing experience to the consumer.

Atul K. Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), said that his ministry is prepared for the discretionary expenditure that may happen post-Covid. He added that the MIB is in the middle of important decisions such as slashing license fees for wired broadband to Rs 1, releasing an AVGC Policy, and regulatory reform in TV and radio broadcasting. At the same time the I&B Ministry is collaborating with other departments/ministries on important issues such as the Champion sector scheme, infrastructure status and IP protection. Jyoti Jindgar Bhanot, Secretary (I/C) at the Competition Commission of India (CCI), distinguished the role played by her organisation. She said that the…

..regulatory approach to technology should appreciate how each technology changes market power and efficiencies in the sector and seek to sensitize the market on the rules of the game.

Light-touch or not:

The TRAI Chairman addressed criticisms levied against the NTO for being overly prescriptive. He responded that TRAI’s role is to protect consumer interest and ensure orderly growth. He added that the NTO regime repealed genre-wise price ceilings on channels and struck the right balance between consumer choice and sectoral health.

Mr. Pai said that for the FCC, light-touch means a relaxation of traditional regulatory structures and unshackling market players, allowing them to compete.

On his often criticised stance on net neutrality, Pai added that digital convergence warrants a transition from the model that pre-empted market failure and imposed controls towards a holistic view. Ms. Bhanot and Mr. Sharma  also expressed the view that preemptive regulation is unnecessary and that regulation should follow market failure.

Mr. Tiwari confirmed that discussions with VOD players on content regulation is progressing according to the mantra of light-touch regulation.

He added that industry players were given 100 days to come forward with a self-regulatory model for themselves. The I&B Ministry is looking at best practices on the issue he said.

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Regulation should be in harmony with the marketplace and facilitate integration with newer technology. Consumers should be the primary beneficiary of technological developments.
  2. The role of the I&B Ministry is to reduce disputes, create more jobs, facilitate the creation of world-class content and work in tandem with other institutions. The need for a specific regulator for the sector will be evaluated.
  3. From the perspective of competition, regulatory intervention should be proportionate and timely; seek to correct not disrupt.
FICCI Frames 2020 Uncategorized

FICCI Frames Day 3 : Balance of Power

“An online platform takes the film where the audience is and  serves the passion to get our production before our people and not get pushed back in the pipeline.”

-Mr. Vikram Malhotra, Founder – Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd

The release of Shoojit Sircar’s film Gulabo Sitabo on a streaming platform was a watershed moment for the film industry. Multiplex chains PVR and INOX heavily criticised the decision to theatrical run of the film, which starred top drawer actors  like Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushman Khurrana.

To discuss this development, stakeholders from media and entertainment sector sat together at E-Frames 2020 to discuss whether OTT platforms and movie theatres can co-exist. Participants included Shoojit Sircar, the director of Gulaabo Sitaabo, Vikram Malhotra, Founder Abundantia Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Mr. Saugata Mukherjee, Head of Original Content – SonyLIV, Mr. Carter Pilcher and Chief Executive Officer – Shorts TV, UK. Film directors Madhur Bhandarkar and Ram Madhvani were also part of the panel, moderated by journalist Taran Adarsh.

Impact of COVID19 on theatrical release

The panellists welcomed the positive response to the release of Gulabo Sitabo and hailed it as a successful experiment. Mr. Malhotra said that online platforms help take the film where the audience is.

For example, Gulabo Sitabo got access to 200 markets at once.

The move also make economic sense as films can be released on time and everyone in the value chain can be compensated without delay.

Mr. Sircar agreed with Mr. Malhotra and said that deferring the release of Gulaabo Sitabo until August would have led to uncertainties and losses. He gave the example of Angrezi Medium, which ran only for three to four days before a complete lockdown was imposed. He added that this concern got pronounced for those who make one film at a time and channel the profits from one production to the next. In contrast, directors who make multiple films simultaneously have the flexibility to delay a particular release.

Advantages of release on OTT platforms

Mr. Mukherjee added that globally big films are now launched on OTT platforms.  These have opened up a new form of distribution and for certain films, OTT will be the first window.

Mr Madhvani added that OTT was benefitting both filmmakers and audiences. The former can time their releases and the latter can watch movies they like, at their own convenience.

Unlike theatrical releases, where a single Friday can determine the fate of a film, online platforms offer a way for continuing the life of a movie. Filmmakers get more creative freedom and there are no compulsions to marketing songs to promote a movie.

Popular genres and relevance of star cast 

Mr. Mukherjee pointed out that recently thrillers have done well on OTT platforms. He warned against “over indexing” a particular genre because other genres haven’t been tried much and, therefore, the statistics might be misleading. Mr Carter explained that in the US, it is family animation that is most successful. Moreover, the popularity of films is director-led. On the contrary, Mr. Malhotra explained that in India, familiarity with a star offers reassurance to the audience and attracts fans. Mr. Carter pointed to the success of Whiplash and Mr. Mukherjee agreed with him that OTT services provide the chance to experiment with, and create, new talent.

OTT and theatres can coexist

That said, the panellists agreed that this is not a new normal but a pandemic-induced situation. The decision to use online platforms is a tactical one until movie halls reopen. Mr. Mukherjee said that the industry will continue to make films suited for both, as some films are better suited for theatrical experiences.

Mr. Carter, suggested a revenue sharing model between theatres and OTTs as a solution to keep the theatres alive.

Key takeaways

  1. OTT services and theatres can coexist. The recent decision to release the film over an online platform was driven by the lack of choice due to the pandemic.
  2. Some films are better suited for theatrical releases and others for digital platforms.
  3. There are several advantages to online releases. These include more control over the  release of film to the filmmaker, more distribution choices, access to audience in different markets, less editorial cuts and the ability to experiment with stories and new talent.
FICCI Frames 2020

FICCI Frames Day 3 : In Conversation with Aaditya Thackeray

The entertainment industry is self-evolving and people are getting a glimpse of “humane side” of their idols, according to Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra’s Minister for Tourism, Protocol and Environment. He was in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director of The Indian Express group, on Day 3 of E-Frames. Mr Thackeray added that previously, people would only see the glamourous side of film stars and celebrities. The rise of social media has now allowed them to see the hard work and stress that goes into the making of their alluring lifestyles. Mr Thackeray also said that the rise of VOD services has provided additional insights.

“Entertainment is self-evolving and can be consumed on the move. During election campaigns, I often watch cricket games on Hotstar.”

COVID-19 in Maharashtra + India-China tensions

The conversation moved onto the Maharashtra Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, tensions between India and China and the role of the press. Mr Thackeray said that Maharashtra’s cases were high because of the focus on aggressive testing, tracing, identification and isolation. He added that social media played an important role in helping deal with the crisis. “People who I never knew would tag me in their Twitter posts [about others in distress]. That was quite helpful because we could help them,” he added. On the current India-China crisis, Mr Thackeray said that was a “need to reassess and hold back” on sponsorships and endorsements from China. He added that the Maharashtra Government had put on hold investments from China and was in constant touch with the Union Government on the matter.

“When it comes to matters of national interest, we have to
stand together as one country.”

Migrant crisis and Maharashtra’s response

Then to the government’ handling of the migrant crisis and the emphasis on jobs for locals. When asked about his party’s stand to give preference to locals, Mr Thackeray said…

“If two people have the same skill set and one of them is a local, then he should be given preference. Otherwise, we are not averse to giving jobs to those who come from outside [Maharashtra]”.

He said that the government provided accommodation, three meals a day and train tickets to the 6 lakh migrants who worked in Maharashtra and wanted to go back home. He added that the government was working on a plan to bring them back so they could resume work and contribute to the state’s economic growth.

Key takeaways:

  1. Entertainment is self-evolving and can be consumed on the go.
  2. Maharashtra is not averse to giving jobs to outsiders provided they have skill sets not supplied by locals.
  3. Stand firmly and united behind the Central Government over response to China.




FICCI Frames 2020 Interview

FICCI Frames Day 2 : A Fine Balance

The government granted industry status to the Film sector in 2000. Back then, the overall revenue generated by the sector was USD 1.3 billion, and Indian films were largely a domestic affair. Since 2013, India has produced the highest film output globally and, in 2019, 350 Indian films were released abroad generating a total USD 332 million.

In such a scenario, the session ‘The Era of Smart TVs and Interconnected Home Devices Needs Smart Regulations’, moderated by Ms. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, contributing editor Business Standard, focused on regulation of the M&E sector. The issues discussed included the necessity for regulation and who should regulate which aspect in the sector.

To regulate or not to regulate and what to regulate:

The panellists came to the consensus that technology will outpace regulation. On one issue, however, Adam Rumanek, Founder and CEO of Aux Mode, a digital rights management company, departed from his Indian co-panellists. His view was that some sort of regulation, such as strong measures to combat piracy, is necessary to guarantee a return on investment to content creators. While others agreed that piracy is a serious issue, they said that in India, the regulator’s obsession with pricing regulation is debilitating the industry. Megha Tata, Managing Director – South Asia, Discovery Networks, said that businesses are already struggling to keep pace with changing consumer needs and the new normal triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To compound matters, they  are also burdened with overreaching regulation that disrupts business models even further. 

The primary objective should be to deregulate to a common minimum, according to Vynsley Fernandes, CEO, IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd. He added that the new consumer does not want to see more regulation. Further, it is “absurd” that within a household, one has to view a censored version of a show on TV, while the uncensored version is available on OTT. Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, contextualised this in news broadcasting. He said that consumers can access content banned by regulation on WhatsApp and Twitter. Pandey suggested that regulation should accord primacy to the creative freedom of people, even as it enforces the basic minimum standards agnostic of technology.

Unsatisfactory process and outcomes:

The Indian panellists expressed their disappointment with regulatory processes and the laws policing content. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority’s (TRAI) New Tariff Order, which ushered in content pricing and bundling, came under heavy criticism. This is over and above the maze of permission regimes that businesses have to navigate to make even the smallest change. As a result, the industry gets severely throttled, according to Ms. Tata. She emphasized that no country has prescriptive regulation on MRP of channels, broadcaster – distributor agreements and bundling. In fact, TRAI regulation runs contrary to all available evidence, she said. Ms Tata cited a survey from the Netherlands, which showed that 98 percent of TV consumers prefer channel bundles, to back her claim.

Another point of agreement among the panellists was that industry-led self-regulation should be the ‘new normal’.

Mr. Rumanek opined that other countries, too, are moving towards such a model, while Mr. Pandey cited the Broadcast Content Complaints Council and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority as exemplary models for regulation.

Key takeaways: 

  1. A light-touch regulatory approach with emphasis on industry-led self-regulatory mechanisms. To achieve this, TRAI’s role in regulating broadcasting needs review and reconsideration.
  2. Evolve a new common minimum of compliances to achieve regulator parity and a level playing field.
  3. Regulation is welcome on digital platforms, as long as the focus is on issues like investment protection, piracy and facilitating value generation.