The buzz was certainly missing at the opening session of the 13th edition of FICCI-FRAMES 2012 held at Mumbai's Renaissance Hotel in Powai. FRAMES is an annual convention organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce and Industry (FICCI, which typically draws magnates from the media and entertainment industry. Unlike last year, where James Murdoch (currently the Deputy COO, News Corporation) opened the innings by lambasting Indian cable operators for hampering digitalisation and broadcasting sector's growth, this year's key note address by Chris Dodd was bland in comparison. Dodd is Motion Picture Association of America chairman and CEO.
Commenting on the rapid growth of the Indian film industry , which is estimated to exceed $5 billion by 2014 from the current $3.2 billion, Dodd drew attention to the threat of content theft to the industry, "This is a global problem and we must have a global commitment to solving it," he said. According to a report by Ernst & Young, movie theft costs the Indian film industry nearly a billion dollars each year and threatens more than half million Indian jobs.
That aside, some important announcement were recorded that should make the industry watchers sit up and take notice. In his inaugural address, Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, announced that his government was creating new centres for film shooting in the state; the first such centre will come up at Kolhapur where entrepreneurs would be provided with financial incentives. He also assured the film industry that its concerns over policing on film locations, the high levels of entertainment tax and stamp duties was receiving close attention of the government.
Speaking on the vision statement for the I&B industry Uday K Varma, secretary, I&B Ministry began by saying that how from being a Ministry that controlled and regulated, the I&B ministry has been progressively transforming itself into a Ministry that partners, enables, promotes and facilitates. In line with this, he announced a decision to expand Community Radio Stations (CRSs) in the country along with as well the FM Phase III expansion which will be enabled through "transparent" process of e-auctions. "We firmly believe in the enormously important role that both radio and television play in helping transform our democratic, open society," he said.
The ministry intends to set up a 1000 CRSs in 5 years and over 835 new radio stations in over 250 towns and cities of the country within next two and half years. Additionally, Varma reiterated the ministry's commitment to time-bound digitisation of the broadcast chain, especially the cable television distribution chain by end of 2014.
To further foster the growth of the Indian film industry, Varma said that the Ministry of I&B, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, is contemplating the possibility of setting up a Film Commission to enable a single-window clearance system for film shooting in India. In this context, the two Ministries have recently signed an MOU to work together towards promoting India as a global film shooting destination. Given that several international films are being shot in Indian locations, this will prove to be good for the foreign producers.
The highlight of FICCI Frames inauguration is the release of the entertainment industry report. The FICCI-KPMG report called 'Digital Dawn: The Metamorphosis Begins,' is slightly more realistic in its estimations of growth compared to the first report released at the session in year 2000 by the erstwhile consulting firm Arther Andersen. The report which was the first ever for the Media and Entertainment sector then was extremely optimistic and had pegged the industry size at Rs 15,000 crore and claimed that this number would swell to Rs 60,000 crore by 2005.
So what is the reality for 2012? The M&E industry grew by 12 per cent from Rs 62,500 crore in 2010 to Rs 72,800 crore in 2011. Backed by strong consumption in tier 2 and 3 cities, continued growth of the regional media and fast increasing new media business, the industry is estimated to achieve a growth of 13 per cent in 2012 to clock Rs 82300 crore. Going forward the report indicates that the M&E industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 14.9 per cent to reach 1,45,700 crore by 2016.
The report also indicates the growth of new emerging technology and media such as 4G, 3D technology, vod via internet, DTH, 4G platforms etc that will boost growth in the future.
However, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India & Chairman, FICCI Broadcast Forum, expressed concern at industry's lack of preparedness to transform or find new business models for the digital media. With universal digitisation, he cautioned, broadcasting business models which are built on centralised creation and distribution of content and even a centralised advertising revenue model will come under huge pressure. He called for a clear policy to enable multiplicity of beams and splits that would be a powerful trigger of content and revenue.
All in all so far most who are attending the Frames conference this year say that they aren't expecting too much to come out of the sessions, although they're not ruling out the possibility of meeting more people and networking for the future.