We are drunk on our own volumes : Uday Shankar

New Delhi: India’s media and entertainment industry needs to tap innovations made possible by digital technology, such as smart phones and tablet PCs, if it were to grow to become a $100 billion industry, said Uday Shankar, CEO of STAR India

The industry, which is currently worth $15 billion, should look at offering a unique content proposition for the 600-odd mobile screens if it’s serious about making itself count in the global stage, he said at the first-of-its-kind Media and Entertainment Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

“We are drunk on our own volumes: largest number of newspapers in circulation, largest number of television viewers at 400 million, 100 million digital consumers. Digital in particular – is an indictment of our creative and strategic limitations – we have 600 million mobile screens and yet we do not have a unique content proposition for the medium,” Mr. Shankar said in his keynote address at the event attended by the who’s who of the Indian M&E industry. “Our ability to convert that into corresponding value is disappointing,” he said.

Mr. Shankar said that it is imperative for all stakeholders in the Media and Entertainment industry to deliberate on the benefits of becoming a $100 billion industry and ways to achieve this goal.
“The benefits of pursuing this dream are obvious to the industry– larger size should lead to bigger profits, bigger share holding value and more wealth. It is easy for the industry to get motivated about the goal,” Mr. Shankar said.

He said that India’s limited presence in the global media and entertainment industry is one of the key impediments in achieving the $100 billion size.
“Media and industry is a globally growing industry – but our participation in that eco-system is zero and India is hardly factored into the global thought process of technology or content,” he added. Similarly, on the domestic front, the industry is yet to fully unlock the potential of the vast Indian market.”

The size of India’s Media and Entertainment industry, which includes television, print, radio, digital media, was pegged at $15 billion at the end of 2011. The industry is growing at around 14% a year.

“At this rate, we will still take 15 years to get to $100 billion. Obviously, we want to get there much faster. The question is: Why and how do we do that?” Mr. Shankar quipped.

He said that even though India’s media and entertainment is growing at a fast clip, global technology and content developers are still reluctant to develop specific products for the country.

Elaborating on the challenges, Mr. Shankar explained how a smaller scale and size of the Indian media and entertainment industry compromises its power to negotiate effectively for Hollywood content. He also emphasized on the need for the industry to also look beyond Indian shores in its pursuit of the $100 billion goal. “Our media and entertainment industry serves – what is arguably the world’s toughest media market: catering to a diverse culture, language, value systems and sophistication of tastes. If a pan-Indian broadcaster acquires the expertise to speak to an audience in over five or six languages, why should it not allow us to go beyond the Indian diaspora?” Mr. Shankar said.

Some of the brightest minds spanning senior executives from media companies, famous actors, producers, directors from Bollywood, policy makers and other influential thinkers got together at the summit to exchange ideas on several important issues for the media and entertainment sector in India.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma, Leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, The Walt Disney Co. Managing Director Ronnie Screwvala, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd. CEO Sudhanshu Vats, Sony Picture Television President for the worldwide network Andy Kaplan, News Corp. Sr. Executive Vice President David Hill, NDTV Group CEO and Executive Director Vikram Chandra, Times Television Network MD and CEO Sunil Lulla, Sony Entertainment Telivision CEO Man Jit Singh, Times Group CEO Ravi Dhariwal, Prasar Bharti CEO Jawahar Sircar, Bollywood producer and director Mahesh Bhatt, Mukesh Bhatt, Prakash Jha, lyricist Javed Akhtar, actors Vidya Balan, Shabana Azmi, Anil Kapoor and eminent journalists Nik Gowing, Vir Sanghvi, Vinod Mehta, Aroon Purie were present at the summit to share their views.

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