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India can be a media superpower only if things are done differently: Harit Nagpal
MUMBAI: India is among the top 15 countries when it comes to media and entertainment. Besides, it is the only country whose M&E sector is seeing double-digit growth, said Tata Sky MD and CEO Harit Nagpal in his theme address on ‘Making India the global entertainment superpower’ at the inaugural session of the three-day media convention FICCI Frames 2015.
Nagpal said that India cannot be a superpower by 2020 if we continue to do the same things in the same manner. “If we continue to do what we have been doing, how are we going to become superpower? We have to decide if we are doing the same or different,” he said.
Hitting out at herd mentality, he said that the industry is lacking in new and innovative thinking. “If one format works, there are 20 followers. New pay TV channels are launching every day. They copy the formats and become free to air once they fail.”
He added that there is no need for more channels like Star Plus or Colors, but there is a need for more niche channels. “With more segmentation, more niche channels are needed. It is the long tail, which will grow the industry,” he said.
News channels keep multiplying and then they are forced to carry 20-22 minutes of advertisements. The sector regulator starts questioning this and these broadcasters move the courts.
Nagpal said that there is no experimentation from producers as well, because the economics does not provoke the producers to do things differently.
He said that sourcing of content creators is restricted to big cities while there are “gems out there in the rural areas”. Production centres should also move to smaller towns where the talent is.
Talking about the multiplex revolution, he said that the spurt in the number of screens has helped the film industry, especially small-budget films. “Films that have been made on a budget of a few crores have seen higher return on investments,” he said.
However, India makes the highest number of films, but the industry is not making much money. This, he said, is because the country is still under-serviced in terms of screens. “There are issues of infrastructure and the number of approvals needed is huge,” he said.
He, however, added that films often make money based on the television rights. “With digitised homes, films will be making more money from cable and satellite rights. Many films are breaking even on C&S rights,” he added.
With regard to digitisation, he said that while 42 cities have been digitised, “MSOs (multi-system operators) are watching and LCOs (local cable operators) are digitising the ground. Addressability is still an issue and packaging is still not done.”
The LCO should be only a service provider to the MSO and not a partner, he added.
Giving an example of Tata Sky, he said that the DTH player’s high-end subscribers pay three times as much as what a normal subscriber pays, while an HD subscriber pays 1.5 times. “If subscribers are willing to pay, I don’t understand why cable guys have still not formed packages,” he said.
Nagpal lauded the new government for showing swift action in clearing files. “Things have improved a lot in the past few months and the government is also keen on clearing files. What used to take months now takes days.”
However, procuring approval is a big hurdle. “Why do I need to take approval for everything? In case I break a rule, penalise me. It is like having a driving licence, but asking someone every time a signal turns green. Things cannot move in such a scenario,” he added.