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Role of govt is that of facilitator, not regulator: I&B secy at Ficci Frames

FE Bureau
industry, information and broadcasting

The government has been liberal with broadcast media and the media is less regulated , Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting, said on Tuesday. Self-regulation and less regulation compliment each other. If you want an industry to grow, you would like to have fewer regulations that are clearly spelt out, Khare observed at the inauguration of the Ficci Frames event. The role of the government is that of a facilitator and not a regulator, he added.

With net box office collections of Rs 3,520 crore , 2018 recorded the highest collections for Hindi theatricals at the box office, even as the number of releases fell to 1,776 compared to 1,807 in 2017.

Khare pointed out the goods and services tax had been reduced from 28% to 18% for a ticket costing more than `100 and for a ticket priced less than `100, the tax had been reduced from 18% to 12%. Apart from that, the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 12 to prohibit a person recording the film without permission from the producer. The single-window clearance is now available to Indian filmmakers to shoot films in India.

Currently, Indian filmmakers require as many as 50-60 permissions from the local municipal bodies, the police department, state pollution control boards and labour department, among others, before the commencement of a shoot, as observed in the FICCI and EY Knowledge paper.

The media and entertainment (M&E) industry has reach the halfway mark and has a long way to go, Ronnie Screwvala, founder, RSVP Production, said. Screwvala said over the last 20 years, the industry has been excited about growth and where India stands. From time immemorial, we always get excited about the reward and we cheer how we have been a $100-billion industry, and every year I would say more or less, we have just reached 50% of the target, Screwvala said. Talking about consolidations in the media industry, he said According to me, consolidation means in some form you have run out of innovation or creative ideas. When they come together, more or less, in two out of 100 cases it s downhill from there. This happens because they look into the balance sheets instead of the profit and loss account of the business.

He further pointed out that broadcast, news channels, cinema and theatre are some of the few segments in the M&E industry which have opportunities but are difficult to scale up. Platforms where content for kids in the age group 14-24 years is created, edutech business where the focus in on the process of learning, gaming and animation are the few sectors that hold huge opportunities. Screwvala felt that while there were some anomalies where entry is restricted like in the cable or DTH market, one did not have to be a resident of India, like one does in the US, to run a broadcast network.

The ministry is also focusing on a few challenges like the screen density in India, Khare added. He was addressing the points raised by Charles H. Rivkin, chairman & CEO, Motion Picture Association of America, during the event. Rivkin acknowledged that India is the largest producer of movies but has the least number of screens to enjoy them. Dangal is the highest grossing film in India. India s population is only second to China. Yet this movie made more in the Chinese box office than it did in its own country. It earned 5 times more in China. The numbers tell a story because China has more than 50, 000 screens, whereas India currently has around 9,500 screens, he said.

Ficci and EY Knowledge reported the total number of screens increased to 9,601 screens, of which the count of single screens is reducing. Single screens reduced from 6,780 in 2017 to 6,651 screens in 2018.