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BRICS pubcasters need to share, co-produce content for growth

MUMBAI: Public broadcasters in the BRICS markets need to share and co-produce content that is relevant to audiences in the five countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Some work has already started. For instance, Doordarshan and Digital Television Russia in December signed an MoU last year to take their co-operation in media to another level. Under this, five Indian documentaries aired in Russia while one film of theirs aired in India.

DD will get Russian programmes, either free of cost or at a low price and vice versa. News is exchanged. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to Russia, DD produced content using infrastructure available there. However, more needs to be done.

It would help if a BRICS channel was created where content from all the countries could be accommodated. However, funding would have to happen if this is to be a reality. It is important for the BRICS countries to not just follow the UK or the US.

These points were made at a session at Frames 2016, the annual convention for the business of media and entertainment organised by FICCI.

South Africa Broadcasting Corporation COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng said that India and South Africa could cooperate on many levels including technology. He feels that South Africa, which is in the process of television digitisation, would benefit if it could use Indian technical expertise. He said that South African companies should be able to interact with Indian production houses and create unique content. The countries should think about empowering women and people with disabilities whether it is through soaps or dramas.

Digital Television Russia CEO Ayuna Badmaeva said that her company operates six out of the top 10 channels in the country. The opportunity is that 15% of the global content market is done in a language other than English such as India and Turkey. The problem is that there are no marketing and sales channels to help people in countries like India to enable the content to travel.

Badmaeva also noted that audiences prefer local content and the same is true for India and South Africa. She said that the BRICS need to understand what content is important for people and then co-produce such content. Co-operation should not be limited to just airing older films.

DD ADG Mukesh Sharma said that co-production is important as it helps costs come down and become practically free. This is important given that public broadcasting is under scrutiny financially. He gave the example of DD partnering Germany’s Deutsche Well for a series on melting pots. He also gave the example of Robocon (short for Robotic Contest) that is organised by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

DD organises National Robocon event every year and the winning team gets an opportunity to represent India at the international competition.

Sharma went on to say that it would help if media students from the BRICS visited each country to learn. “The BRICS should organise TV festivals. Television and film ideas can be seen and exchanged. Work should be shared or we will not know each other.”

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