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M&E requires an independent regulator and not just a division of TRAI: Punit Goenka

The MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment was speaking at a panel discussion on Enabling Policy Framework for Indian M&E, which included media honchos and policymakers

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | October 20, 2015


On Day One of the CII Big Picture Summit 2015, which explored the prospects to the Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector to make it a $100 billion industry, saw the largest panel discussion on ‘Enabling Policy Framework for Indian M&E’ with 12 panellists including media honchos, policymakers and Sudhanshu Vats, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Group CEO, Viacom18, as the moderator.

Concerned over the sluggish growth rate of the sector compared to other sectors, the panel pondered over issues like – Do we need a national policy for high growth of M&E to usher in a turnaround? Do we work towards an all-inclusive, enabling policy framework for media and entertainment to enable and realise India’s global objectives in M&E?

Besides Vats as the moderator, the panel had JS Mathur, Special Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting; Sunil Singhal, Advisor, TRAI; Rajeev Singh, Member, Finance, Prasar Bharati; Punit Goenka, Managing Director & CEO, Zee Entertainment; Raj Jain, CEO, Bennett Coleman & Co; Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Sky; Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd; Ashish Kulkarni, Founder & CEO, Punnaryug Artvision; Neeraj Roy, MD & CEO, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment; Sonia Singh, Editorial Director, NDTV Group; and Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia.

As the first speaker on the panel, Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Sky, set the tone for the discussion by stating, “Considering that we distribute monies collected from consumer equally in three parts between broadcasters, government and us, the industry’s revenues will not grow by that order of magnitude if my revenues do not grow by the same order of magnitude.” Nagpal raised his voice against the higher entertainment tax ranging from 32 per cent to 34 per cent of the top line as one of the obstructions. The mandatory insertion of inter-portability device CAM in the set-top boxes was termed as a waste of $120-140 million by Nagpal as he had not received a single request for porting in the last 10 years. The regulation of prices of packages and a-la-carte channels, mandatory display of toll-free number and keeping the records of both hard copy and digital copy of CAF forms were cited as some of the key hurdles for the distribution and DTH industry.

Talking about the policy issues being faced by the print sector, Raj Jain, CEO, BCCL, pointed out the changes required for growth of the print industry. Jain stressed on the need to relook the wage board regulations, DAVP advertising rates and impending GST change.

Piyush Pandey Piyush Pandey

The next speaker, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, spoke about the issues faced by the creative and advertising industry. Pandey appealed for more NIDs to be opened across the country to produce more skilled people for the industry. “We should also focus on making advertising and content creation as mainstream career beyond the traditional career opportunities,” he added.

Punit Goenka Punit Goenka

Talking about the television industry, Punit Goenka, Managing Director & CEO, Zee Entertainment, noted that the industry definitely needed a liberal regulator to reach the $100-billion mark. “To achieve this goal, may be media and entertainment requires an independent regulator and not just a division of TRAI,” said Goenka.

Vats noted that in terms of self-regulation of content and freedom of speech, the industry was making progress as News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) and Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) were working in a more and more self-regulated fashion and it would be good if they got statutory recognition like the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

Sunil Singhal, Advisor, TRAI, cautioned the industry to segregate placement and carriage fees as it was possible to regulate the carriage fee, but placement fee was a truly bilateral arrangement. “However, the placement component will automatically go away the moment the industry starts to focus on quality content,” he added.

JS Mathur, Special Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, touched upon all the issues raised and concluded by saying, “The Government is open to discuss all the issues and look for options to ease the litigations.”

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