Regulatory policy

K Madhavan urges government to follow lean policy for streaming, OTT and gaming

National Director and Chairman of Disney Star, K Madhavan, who is also Chairman of the CII National Committee on Media and Entertainment, has urged the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and the telecommunications regulator of India (TRAI) to follow a light policy framework on issues such as broadcast tariffs and content regulation.

Speaking at the 11th CII-Big Picture Summit, Madhavan said a lean policy will bring new investment into the sector, especially in emerging areas like over-the-top (OTT). He also urged the TRAI to adopt tariff forbearance while asking the MIB to follow a lean policy in the National Broadcast Policy.

Madhavan said the government should clarify regulations at the national level for the growth of the gambling industry. He also touched on the issue of piracy which is eating away at the income of the entertainment industry. The Disney Star chief asked the MIB to come up with stricter and more favorable intellectual property protection and anti-piracy measures.

“Broadcasting has been badly affected, pending a resolution on the NTO. A speedy resolution is important for consumers, broadcasters as well as distributors. Ideally, we should adopt a principle of forbearance, in line with best practices from most developed markets. We are working closely with Dr. Vaghela and TRAI on this issue and hope for a positive resolution soon,” he said in his opening remarks.

“We are also counting on the Ministry of I&B to gain support on a comprehensive National Broadcast Policy covering the CATV Network Act and to keep a light policy framework, especially in content-related areas. “Industry would like to see a lightweight policy that will encourage especially in new and growing areas like OTT, innovation and investment,” he added.

While listing the challenges the M&E industry has faced over the past two years, Madhavan said the industry is performing better now than before the pandemic. This, he said, reflects his agility and willingness to meet challenges.

Madhavan also stressed the need for the media industry to constantly keep pace with the changing environment otherwise it will stagnate and become useless. “Disruptive innovation is happening at a staggering rate. Consumers are changing, technology is changing, and consumer behaviors are changing. We need to challenge the status quo and challenge our own old success formulas.”

He also said that digital is a way of life for younger audiences, therefore, the media industry needs to embrace disruptive technology like the metaverse to deliver an immersive experience. “Imagine, the metaverse allowing users to walk around the arena during live sports; or sitting next to participants or the host during reality TV shows; the innovations are limitless, limited only by the imagination.”

The M&E sector, Madhavan said, remains underpenetrated and accounts for less than 0.9% of GDP. In developed markets, the M&E sector accounts for 3-4% of GDP. He added that subscription and advertising revenues in India are well below global levels. He pointed out that 100 million households are still without a television.

Given the failure of major blockbuster Bollywood films in recent years, the Disney Star chief has claimed that the Hindi film industry needs to redefine its strategy to attract local and global audiences. “Some of the recent regional films have seen great success both in India and on global streaming platforms and this is validation that we have the potential to bring our films to a global audience. And it is time for us to work towards that goal,” he said. added.

He also lamented that India, despite having a talented workforce, does not even have a 1% share of the world’s strong animation, visual effects, games and comics industry. (AVGC) of $800 billion. “It can be another IT-type sector, and we can certainly aim for a 5% market share in 5 years. That’s almost $40 billion and the potential to create 160,000 jobs.”

While noting that media companies had recently committed billions of dollars worth of investments in sports rights, Madhvan urged the regulator to leave price discovery for distribution to the market mechanism. He also said that investments in indigenous sports like Kabaddi will encourage the adoption of sports across India, including in villages.

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