@FF12: Day 3: Industry expects thoughts to lead to pertinent actions

20 Mar,2012

By A Correspondent


The last day of FICCI Frames 2012 was an eventful day — insightful sessions, a lot of networking, sharing of ideas, deals being cracked — and amongst all of this, the highlight was the session on Women in Media and Entertainment.


The day started off with a keynote presentation by Ashok Chawla, Chairman, Competition Commission of India (CCI). He said that the media and entertainment (M&E) industry was one of the fastest growing sectors inIndiawith an expected CAGR of 14-15 per cent. He then proceeded to outline the role of the CCI and its importance: “CCI is an overall market regulator whose objective is to ensure that market forces operate with transparency and fair play. It has been put in place to identify the boundaries of behaviour of the industry.


Mr Chawla opined that self-regulation was of prime importance to avoid infringement of law or market practices and cautioned industry players that consumers should be given primary importance.


Taking on the Digital threat

The next session was on “Sustaining Long-term Newspaper Loyalty” by two biggies — N Ram, former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu and Girish Agarwal, Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group, who shared their views on the future prospects of the newspaper industry.


Mr N Ram started off his speech by stating that there was ‘anxiety and gloom’ over the fact that journalism was seeing a meltdown in the mature markets. He outlined two media world phenomenon next, where the less developed countries are witnessing increase in circulation of newspapers unlike the mature market. But he added a word of caution when he said that TV, even in the developing world, is going through a crisis which it has so far covered by showing entertainment as part of news. Inspite of this, Mr Ram was optimistic that the medium term prospects for the media industry are looking good.


As is been spoken widely about, the key factor for the decline in the newspaper is the increasing popularity of the digital media. Mr Ram called this the Digital Age Paradox and added that in recent times the newspapers have seen an increase in the readership of their online editions but have witnessed a “double squeeze” on their revenue, as they have had to subsidise digital journalism, which in turn is cannibalising their circulation.


On how to sustain loyal readers, he tipped, “Stick to the basic principles of journalism – they can build a relationship with the readers, which it can rent out to the advertisers. And most important – “newspapering” should not be reduced to consumer marketing of news.”


Mr Girish Agarwal took the stage next. Contrary to Mr Ram’s belief, he said that Indian newspapers are growing in their circulation and readership. He spoke about the need to engage the ‘consumer’ by asking “How relevant are we (newspapers) to the reader?”


He opined that a newspaper cannot rest on its past glory but should move ahead by acknowledging and understanding what the consumer wants and giving him what they think he needs. On how to keep pace with changing times, Mr Agarwal said that newspapers should have global vision and hyper local content.


After the speeches the floor was opened to the audience who questioned Mr Ram and Mr Agarwal about threat perception of the culture of medianet and media houses being bought over by MNCs. Mr Ram denounced paid news as a rogue practice which has been rubbished by the Press Council. Mr Agarwal said that ethically media should report anything that may be perceived as defaming by the parent company but the ground reality is not always so rosy.


Women to the fore

A big highlight of Day 3 was a session titled   ‘Women in Media & Entertainment circa 2012: Leading from the front’.

The panel members of this session were Vidya Balan, Actor; Anurradha Prasad, Managing Director, BAG Films; Jeni Tosi, CEO, Film Victoria; Ekta Kapoor, Creative Director, Balaji Telefilms; Barkha Dutt, Group Managing Editor, NDTV; and Usha Uthup, Singer. The session was moderated by Rajeev Masand, Entertainment Editor, CNN-IBN.


This session discussed the journey of each of the above eminent women personalities and the challenges they faced during their journey. As the moderator, Rajeev Masand put it: “Traditional media, for long, was dominated by men, but not any longer. It’s become outdated.”


All the eminent women personalities claimed that despite all their challenges they had an incredible journey and the results have been fruitful.  Ms Tosi observed that there would always be obstacles in a woman’s journey but, at the same she also admitted that at times a little bit of luck and timing also plays a part in one’s success nevertheless, she must also be hard working and committed to succeed.

According to Ms Dutt, the real heroes are the women who came before them i.e. those who made a mark and their presence felt in the male dominated industry.


One of the topics discussed at the session was whether ambition for men meant one thing and another for women, and how society reacts to ambitious women. Ms Ekta Kapoor agreed that ambition for men is a virtue, but for women it is seen as something negative. “I never took being a woman as a disadvantage. Today I am successful not in spite of being a woman but, because I am a woman,” she added.


Ms Prasad said: “Today women have become mature, and so have their families. Women have to juggle multiple roles. Had I thought that since I am a woman, I cannot take on a task, then I would not have been successful. If you are happy with what you are doing, you will be successful in life.”


Ms Uthup was of the view that what has really changed is the audience. “The field of Arts has been a level playing field for women. You really don’t have gender bias. I believe if we want change to take place, the people need to be awakened. Men and women must work together, but then there are things that women can do and men can’t and there are things men can and women can’t do.”


Ms Balan said: “The Indian actress today has been humanized; she is getting to play a part in the story. I have never seen my gender as a disadvantage, all I knew was I had to be strong to move ahead in life. There is a wide variety of roles for women today and the fact that there is no model code for women any more is liberating.”


While all these eminent women had plenty of inspiring stories to share, each of them have had to overcome their own tough challenges, change the societal mindset about women being weak and docile, to climb their way to the top.


The road is set for 2013


In a session which ran parallel to the one on Women in M&E, a panel of regional TV experts got together to discuss growth avenues. Moderated by Nachiket Pantvaidya, Executive Vice-President, Star Pravah and with speakers like K Madhavan, Managing Director, Asianet and Sharada Sunder, EVP – Regional Channels, Zee, the session concluded that “Regional was the new National.” One issue which was discussed in the session was how to attract talent and also how does regional broadcast channels attract youth, the single largest segment inIndia.


A session on GEC regulation discussed dos and don’ts as far as content is concerned, what is permissible and what not. It included Justice AP Shah, Prof Jonathan Askin, Ashok Nambissan of Sony Entertainment Television and Naresh Chahal of IBF.


The general feedback from delegates was that Frames 2012 had pertinent topics discussed. One hopes that industry put the many ideas and resolutions discussed to action.


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