Media could be $100-bn industry, say stakeholders

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) Given necessary policy regulations and improved, innovative content, the media and entertainment industry in India could make a giant leap and emerge as a $100 billion industry, stakeholders said Friday.

The media and entertainment industry in India, according to a 2012 estimate from PricewaterhouseCoopers, is worth approximately $17 billion.

"What is desperately needed is consensus on what to regulate and how much. It is this lack of consistency in regulation that is impacting multiple industries. At exactly the moment when our economy is poised for the next big leap, we have found a way to make it harder and harder for our companies to innovate, to create new products and services, and to find new markets," Uday Shankar, chief executive officer, Star India, said while addressing the two-day CII Big Picture Summit 2013 here.

Industry stakeholders also see the need for lesser dependency on advertisement revenue.

Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Manish Tiwari said the government was ready to walk that extra mile to give the industry the necessary infrastructure.

"Government believes that the media and entertainment industry, both in its content and non-content dimensions, can unlock the creative potential of millions of people across the country. We will walk that extra mile to put in place requisite infrastructure and policy to see that the industry is able to translate the 100 billion dollar position into reality," he said.

Uday Shankar remarked: "At 15 percent, we may grow at thrice the rate of the GDP (gross domestic product) but that is more a reflection of our top-line economic growth than the health of our industry. At this rate, it will take us another 15 years to hit $100 billion in value and by then, we will be just three percent of the world media market. This is just unacceptable."

The speakers at the summit noted that India has 800 channels telecasting more than half a million hours of original content to 700 million viewers. From around 3,000 newspapers in 1991, the country now has more than 80,000. Most of the growth is occurring in the vernacular languages.

The movie industry has grown 20 times, and evolved from a disorganised community dominated by a few players to a competitive sector.

Industry leaders had last year set their sights on an ambitious target of $100 billion for the sector, which supports six million jobs directly, and probably twice more indirectly.

Ronnie Screwvala, managing director, Walt Disney, India, said that to reach the $100 billion-mark, the industry should have a strategy spanning the next 18 months. There was need to reduce dependence on advertising revenue and concentrate on longer-term initiatives.

"A core group of four-five people on unanimous basis can come together and work closely with representatives of the government so that there is stability in regulation," Screwvala suggested.

Industry stakeholders raised concerns over less movie screens, as compared to the size of the audience.

Tiwari said in response: "At least there are 14 million Indians who go to the cinema everyday. The industry can tell us how the government can, with them and the state governments, put a proper packet of incentives towards creating infrastructure, which the industry can leverage."

Tiwari said the print industry in India was in the pink of health.

"When the print industry in the world is shrinking, the Indian print industry continues to grow at 10 percent compound annual growth rate. By 2017, it will be the sixth largest print market in the world," Tiwari said.

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