: Mumbai, April 13, 2023
One of the major reasons why Indian content is more acceptable today globally is because it is being translated into more languages and OTT platforms have made this possible, stated the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I & B), Government of India, Apurva Chandra in Mumbai today. In a keynote conversation session with Clare Bloomfield, Acting Chief Policy Officer of Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) on ‘Policies to Make India a Global Content and Technical Hub’, the I & B Secretary said, “Quality of content has always been very good in India, but now it is easier for Indian content to travel across the world. OTT has helped it in a big way. Curiosity of people about India too has risen, people want to know more about India”.
OTT Platforms: Relevance and Regulations
I & B Secretary further said that though traditional media continues to be the core and backbone of the media and entertainment industry, now the OTT platforms have also become a very important component. “But I find that many of the traditional media houses are also putting their content into their own OTT platforms. And as a customer, it is always more convenient that you’re not bound by time and you’ll see content at your own pace. So, I think it is a symbiotic relationship, the content creation will continue”.
Speaking about OTT regulations, he informed that the Government has gone for a very soft touch regulation. “We have left it to the industry to do more of self-regulation. It is a three-tier regulation which was introduced a couple of years back. We think it is going quite well. At the first stage, if a complaint is received regarding quality of content, it is sent to the content producer to take action. At the secondary level, there is an industry body to look into it and lastly it comes to the I & B Ministry. We have received very few complaints at the Ministry level”. Stating this, the I & B Secretary also said, “But at the same time, there are concerns that this soft-touch regulations may have led to some content which is not desirable. We would request the industry to be cognizant of the concerns and culture of the country.”
The I & B Secretary stated that the Cinematograph Act is being re-worked. “It is going to be introduced in the Parliament very soon”, he said. A provision regarding transmission of film content on internet is being added, he informed. “If that happens, it will go a big way in protecting copyright and we will be able to block those websites where pirated content are transmitted. But let’s see how it goes in the Parliament and how it proceeds”. In this connection, the I & B Secretary stated that the Government is always committed to act against piracy. “If you bring to our notice that certain websites are being used for pirated content, then we work towards blocking those websites”, he said.
Ease of Doing Business – Shooting and Post-Production in India
“To promote Ease of Doing Business in broadcasting, we have uplinking and downlinking guidelines, where we give permissions to broadcasters and satellite channels which are broadcasting in India. We have set Broadcast Seva portal, to enable electronic processing and transparency. We have also switched from permissions to a regime of submitting information. We learn from broadcasters that they are quite happy with the new guidelines, since the process has become much easier”.
I & B Secretary also informed that the Film Facilitation Office of NFDC facilitates domestic and international film-makers and it is now being aligned with state portals so that it becomes a single-window for providing both central and state government permissions and incentives. Further, incentives were announced at Cannes Film Festival for promoting film shooting in India.
“We are trying to bring out a new face of Prasar Bharati very soon”
I & B Secretary stated that the role of Prasar Bharati is to promote socially relevant content. He referred to the ‘Swaraj’ serial which was launched during the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav last year. “I think it is a very relevant serial which showcases the history of Indian independence”, he stated and said that the Government would like content on socially relevent issues made by Prasar Bharti to reach a larger audience through the OTT platforms. That sort of collaboration can always work, he added.
National Broadcasting Policy
The I & B Secretary stated that a National Broadcasting Policy has been in the works because the broadcasting sector is now fragmenting into several parts with conflicting interests and the various broadcasters like media broadcasters, OTTs etc. have different mechanisms, regulations and tariffs. So there is a need for a national broadcasting policy, he added.
I & B Secretary also said that terrestrial broadcasting is no longer viable and everybody has switched to satellite mode. “We decided that the frequency which was allocated to terrestrial broadcasting and was lying unused for several years, may be used for telecom purposes if required. Otherwise, whatever frequencies are allocated to broadcasting will remain with broadcasting”, he added.
Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) : A growing sector
I & B Secretary reiterated that content creation potential in AVGC sector is huge. He said that AVGC Task Force report has been accepted at the Ministry level and it is being taken to the cabinet. He said that the gaming industry, whose world-wide worth is $300 billion, has a huge scope in India for growth in content creation and innovation. A lot of content is getting created in India and incentives will be given for the animation and visual effects industry and the postproduction done in India, he added.
The I & B Secretary also said that while there are about 20 million TVs in Indian homes, the number of mobiles is almost 800 million. Hence, increasing mobile broadcasting is going to create a big push for new content creation.
Later in the day, the I & B Secretary also attended a meeting with Motion Picture Association in the city. The discussions centred on ‘Promoting India as a film-shooting destination and an attractive post-production destination’.