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FICCI Frames Day 1 | Light-And-Tight : Regulation Mantra For Media And Entertainment

  • 07.07.2020
  • By Varun Ramdas
Creative First

At a time when the media and entertainment industry will be worth Rs.2.4 Trillion in 2022, the session at FICCI Frames 2020 on “Shaping the Future of M&E in Today’s Digitalised and Information Driven Economy” brought stakeholders from the sector together. Representatives from print media, cinema, VOD platforms, radio and the TV industry discussed the future of regulation in the sector with Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Adapting to new technologies:

Despite the differences in distribution technologies, Mr. Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player and Punit Misra, CEO, Domestic Broadcasting, ZEE Entertainment, agreed that there is a structural shift in the manner in which people consume content. Accurate and reliable data is available today on the number of consumers because it is possible to measure the number of smart TVs and mobile phones, according to Mr Bedi. Earlier, TV viewership was a rough estimation based on the number of TV households which was multiplied by 4. Mr. Misra emphasized that consumer behaviour requires a nuanced understanding of content’s audience. According to him, audiences prefer to consume different kinds of content across contexts.

It is possible that the show they watch on an airplane or at home alone, may not be the same that they view with their families.

Content creators acknowledge this at the stage of content creation, discovery, packaging and marketing.

Mr. Shekhar Kapur, a veteran film director, said that…

..technology outpaces both regulators and content creators.

The challenge for content creators is to remain relevant as newer and more immersive technologies are used in the M&E sector, he added. Mr. Ajit Mohan, Managing Director, Facebook India, said that technology has also disrupted the dichotomy between content producers and consumers. He added that 4G and social media platforms have democratised content creation and consumption.

Level playing field:

Mr. Khare stressed that the government has sought to adopt a regulatory approach that is both light and tight.

As a result, the number of compliances will be reduced but their enforcement will be maximized. This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Minimum Governance, Maximum Government’ and the efforts over the last six years to improve ease of doing business in India.

Mr. Girish Agarwal, Promoter and Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group, highlighted that print media and news aggregator regulations differ from each other. His remarks were in the context of the 26 percent FDI cap on print media, which didn’t apply to news aggregators. Mr. Agarwal added that these discrepancies must be harmonized to create a level playing field for print media and digital news aggregators, as well as radio and podcasts. Mr. Khare responded by saying that the process to rationalise these discrepancies has already been initiated. However, he assured the panel stringent regulations will not apply on all platforms/mediums.

Key Takeaways: 

  1. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog are agreeable to grant infrastructure status to the broadcasting sector. For this, stakeholders should arrive at a common understanding on what infrastructure will be covered within this definition.
  2. Technological changes will outpace regulation, so it would be optimal to create a negative list of prohibited activities, just like Singapore has done. Outside this list, any platform or medium can function without other regulations.
  3. Providing a level-playing field is a priority for the government. The government will pursue regulation with a light-but-tight approach, instead of adapting the least restrictive standards to all media.