M&E industry expects new govt to continue digital push and focus on censorship for films, digital content

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government is all set to return to power after repeating its 2014 success in the Lok Sabha 2019 polls. While the party is rejoicing, industry players from the media and entertainment sector have a few expectations from the new government.

Some expect the government to continue with the digital push, others want the focus to be on censorship of over the top Over The Top (OTT) platforms and ease of doing business in terms of getting clearances and licenses.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas said, “The government has worked a lot for the industry specifically to promote exhibition and production both. And, having him again with majority we look forward to more support from the government in terms of getting the clearances and licensing in place.”

He added that “If you look at the last five years of the Modi government, they have got GST (goods and services tax) into the picture which has helped the industry. It was a “one nation, one tax” policy. All the entertainment tax differentiation has been eliminated. Secondly, because of the entertainment tax, we were not in the position to take any credit on our expenses, which is now possible. They changed the GST slab from 18 to 12 percent, which has boosted the sentiment of the industry.”

Vivek Agnihotri, the director of the film The Tashkent Files, expects the new government and the new I&B minister to look at Shyam Benegal’s recommendation seriously for the censorship in films.

“For a very long time, people have been demanding that fundamental changes are made in film certification.”

He added that “the new government should look at self-regulation of digital media.”

“With the changing scenario, it is important to have regulations both for news as well as digital content,” he added.

Earlier this year, members of the Hindi film industry met Narendra Modi to discuss various issues faced by the film industry. They also thanked the PM for the reduction in GST rates.

In this year’s Budget, the film industry got a big relief when the government announced that a single-window clearance would be made available to filmmakers, and anti-camcording provision will be introduced in the Cinematography Act to fight piracy.

In addition to that, Budget 2019 emphasised on artificial intelligence (AI) and Digital India. And, a few players expect the government to continue with the technology push.

Neeraj Roy, the founder and CEO – Hungama Digital Media, expects the “new government to take forward the reforms and put digital at the centre of everything to empower both the nation and its citizens even more in this second term.”

Along with the digital push, there are other expectations from the new government.

“For the entertainment industry, with digital and OTT growing rapidly, there must be a clear definition of OTT, which currently does not exist. Further, there must be mechanisms to address consumer issues with OTT, with a great emphasis being on privacy,” said N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research.

Concurring with Chandramouli is Asheesh Chatterjee,the CFO & CBO, RBNL – Revenue, AdEx, Radio Industry. He said, “With OTT players coming in, we need to have a proper framework of growth and equity distribution among various platforms. One of the biggest points that needs to be addressed at the very earliest is the creation of jobs and digital growth across multiple areas. M&E can be a big catalyst in this while directly and indirectly helping multiple sectors on the advertising sector, travel, and tourism, CSR, entertainment industry, among others.”

“We did witness changes being implemented in the last five years. But, when we narrow down to radio and broadcast in particular, these auctions and change of policies, with respect to the radio auctions, would entail a reduction in reserve prices and all these are extremely important steps,” he added.

“With this, radio can be a good employment generator if we are able to expand radio footprint from 400 frequencies or 100 odd cities to 300-400 odd cities and 1,000 plus frequencies. Clearly, it will lead to CapEx investment, employment generation and a higher income for the government. That’s one big thing we hope to see in the coming five years,” said Chatterjee.


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