Wednesday, March 12, 2014

FICCI FRAMES 2014 gets underway

Self regulation best option for TV ratings: I&B Ministry

Mumbai, 12 March 2014: The government has recently notified TRP guidelines that cover a detailed procedure for registration of rating agencies, eligibility norms, terms and conditions of registration, cross holdings, methodology for audience measurement, complaint redressal mechanisms, sale and use of the audit, disclosure, reporting requirements and action against non compliance. This was disclosed by Mr Bimal Julka, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, at the opening of the 15th FICCI FRAMES Conference here today.

FRAMES is a three day global convention organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). It covers the entire gamut of media and entertainment like films, broadcast, digital entertainment, animation, gaming, and visual effects. About 200 Indian and overseas speakers will address nearly 2000 Indian and 800 foreign delegates from the media and entertainment industry. This year marks the 15th anniversary of FICCI FRAMES and assumes importance since it comes just before the general elections.

In his opening remarks, Mr Uday Shankar, Chairman, FICCI Media and Entertainment Committee and CEO, Star India, complimented the FICCI team for putting up such a spectacular show. He expressed happiness that the media had recorded a growth of 12 percent last year, amidst an environment of gloom and doom. That is a testimony to the tenacity of the media, he said.

Mr Shankar also described media and entertainment as key to the inspiration of one billion Indians, and hence felt that an event like this was extremely important, especially since it took place at a time leading to the elections. The industry had run through its course of exploiting the first set of economic reforms in 1991. It now faces a complex set of economic and social choices, including the role of the government and private sector. He was of the view that no relationship is more important than that between the government and the media, since they are conditioned to be adversarial. Hence these weeks before the elections call for a rethink of their respective roles.

“We are of the firm view that self regulation by the industry is the best option as far as TV ratings are concerned,” said Mr Bimal Julka. Delivering the vision statement at the inaugural session, he announced that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation had set up a Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)) High Table and was going ahead with appointing a rating agency. He urged BARC to speed up the process so that ratings may be generated without delay. He described the issue of TRPs as critical for the broadcasting sector and said it had been under discussion for the last few months.

Regarding FM radio, Mr Julka said that the ministry’s policies had ensured vibrant growth in the sector, with 245 FM channels launched in 86 cities since 2005. The third phase of FM auction for 839 channels is currently underway. He also discussed the challenges facing the sector, including complete digitisation throughout the country, rationalisation of taxes, control of vertical monopoly and cross holdings and content monitoring. Mr Julka also announced that the National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai is ready for inauguration and the first phase will be dedicated to the nation very shortly.

Mr Ajit Pai, Commissioner, FCC, USA, was the guest of honour at the event. He began on a personal note, describing how his parents migrated to the US in 1971 and taught him the value of hard work and sacrifice. As a child growing up in the US, he found it difficult to communicate with his grandparents back home because there were no phones, no email and no YouTube. Today’s world is unrecognisable from those days, he observed.  Thanks to technology, families that are separated geographically feel a lot closer today than they did in the ‘70s.

Mr Pai was clearly of the view that regulators must not impose their preferences on others. It was the role of the marketplace to sort success from failure. Describing the phenomenal progress made by the entertainment and media industry in America, he said that this progress happened not by government fiats, but because the private sector took risks to innovate, spending over one trillion dollars on upgrading and deploying core broadcast infrastructure. The US Government created the regulatory framework for the industry to take these risks. That is the story behind their success.

FICCI Frames always has a partner country and a partner state. This year, the partner country is Australia, and the partner state Karnataka. Mr Patrick Suckling, Australian High Commissioner to India, delivered the Partner Country Keynote Address.  He felt that Australia’s film credentials are not as well recognised in India as they should be. His country has won about 50 Oscars, out of which three have been this year. The industry is adept in both front and back end cinema quality. There are four major production houses, with modern infrastructure, technological expertise, and post production, animation and music facilities. Australia is famous for its locations, and he called upon Bollywood producers to consider shooting in Australia. He also announce that Australia’s interests go beyond film making to education, and can make a good contribution to Indian film institutes. However, there still remain areas of mistrust and lack of understanding between the two countries, and these must be addressed through interaction.

Karnataka, the partner state, was represented by Mr Srivatsa Krishna, Secretary, Department of IT, BT & ST, Government of Karnataka. In a dramatic multimedia presentation, he showcased the state-of-the-art  facilities available in Karnataka, and revealed that many famous Hollywood film sets were actually created at Whitefield in Bengaluru. He invited Indian and international film makers to take advantage of the facilities offered by his state.

Mr Harshvardhan Neotia, Vice President, FICCI, welcomed the gathering to the three-day event and Mr Ramesh Sippi, Co-Chairman, FICCI Media and Entertainment Committee, delivered the vote of thanks. The session also saw the release of the FICCI-KPMG Report and the FICCI Amarchand Lawbook. The entire session was anchored by Dr A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI.

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