25 Nov 2017
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M&E needs govt support to unlock true potential: Sanjay Gupta

NEW DELHI: The Indian media and entertainment industry has the potential to serve as the country’s key engine of growth, both socially and economically, but it urgently needs government support with respect to policy matters for unlocking its true potential, feels Star India COO Sanjay Gupta.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day CII Big Picture Summit 2014 which kicked off today, Gupta said that the industry needs some changes in outlook and policy to keep growing and continuing to make a strong social impact.

Mr-Sanjay-Gupta-“The Indian media industry is the biggest in the world by output—over 500,000 hours of television content, 80,000 newspapers published daily, 1,600 feature films each year,” Gupta said.

He felt there are two reasons why the M&E industry is not really seen as a growth engine or as an exciting part of the ‘Made in India’ story.

“The biggest reason is that many successive governments have seen it as just a vehicle of glitz and glamour, or through the narrow lens of a very small and hyper-critical news sector. Therefore, issues that are intrinsic to unlocking growth in this sector are either misunderstood or deprioritised, or both.”

Examining the case of digitisation and pricing, he said that the debate around digitisation seems to have come down to issues such as LCO problems in making the shift or how important it is to get the set-top boxes (STBs) manufactured in India. “In reality, the real issue is whether we are serious about creating an enabling framework for delivery of content that will dramatically increase diversity of content and boost creativity.”

With regard to price control, he said that the biggest victim is growth as keeping prices controlled in a market where consumers demand a lot more and are willing to pay a lot more only means that the sector is starved of the investment resources it needs to fuel growth.

However, he added that the M&E industry also needs to look within. “The problem lies with us too. We have always set the bar too low.”

According to Gupta, while Indian films need to create a truly global market for creative work, broadcasters and producers also need to endeavour to be more innovative and original in their content.

Talking about the dearth of talent, he said that there is a real crisis with regard to both supply and quality. “How can we aspire to be a $100 billion industry, if we ourselves have not raised the bar on what we create and how we shape the agenda for this sector?” Gupta said, rhetorically.

He said that the industry has a great positive impact on society too. “We all know the impact of the M&E sector is not just economic. Years ago, the University of Chicago did a study across a large number of villages in India. They were trying to understand the impact of satellite television. Their results were startling. Within two years of cable TV coming to town, women were less likely to tolerate domestic violence, less likely to prefer sons over daughters, and more inclined to enrol their girls in schools. The power of this sector is in its ability to inspire imaginations.”

Gupta added that in spite of such economic impact and positive social change and growth, the sector is not taken seriously as a growth engine. “Despite growing at three times the GDP consistently for the last few years, despite employing six million, despite being a Rs 90,000-crore industry, what can be a uniquely ‘Made in India’ story is being ignored.”