BudgetSpeak #1: CVL Srinivas: Budget 2014 – An opportunity to reboot M&E

23 Jun,2014

By CVL Srinivas


If Information Technology was the hero of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Media and Entertainment (M&E) Industry has the potential of emerging as the next big growth driver of the Indian economy. We have all the ingredients of making it really big – a Rs 1000 billion+ industry, a 1.2 billon strong entertainment hungry market in India and a growing number abroad, the most active and diverse film industry, over 600 TV channels, a print industry that is still very large and growing unlike in most other countries, a radio industry that has managed to do well despite all the constraints, a growing digital industry that is seeing a lot of world class innovation and IP creation, a talented advertising industry and a very skilled base of data and analytics resources that can play an important role in the data rich digital era.


There are three levels at which the government can help fast track the M&E industry, some of which are related to the budget and the rest more linked to policy.

1. Make M&E businesses more viable: There are a host of areas that need to be looked into urgently to help the industry get super charged. From a reduction in custom duties on STBs, digital infrastructure and a rationalization of taxes for DTH players, the government can create a more viable environment for the broadcast sector. With Indian diaspora spread across the world, Indian TV channels must be encouraged to expand their footprint and create global brands. The print sector has been hit badly by the rising costs of newsprint and the implementation of wage board recommendations. Given that we are one of the few countries where print continues to grow, the industry needs support. Faster implementation of radio expansion through Phase 3, stimulus to help expand cinema reach in smaller towns and rationalization of entertainment tax on cinemas are some of the other measures that can be taken.


2. Ensure policies are sensible and actionable and don’t cause disruption in the short-term: We had a fair bit of disruption in the past 12-18 months due to policy announcements that were either ill-timed or not followed through with action. For all policy matters, the government would do well to consult all stakeholders and not play to any one section. We need special emphasis on new media, convergence and digital as many areas either lack policy or fall into grey zones.


3. Make India a global M&E hub:
In this age of digital disruption, India has a great opportunity of becoming a global M&E hub. The government must co-create a vision with industry stakeholders that will give India its rightful place in this sector on the global map. The starting point is to ensure we invest in talent especially developing a skilled resource base in new media. We are seeing a lot of homegrown technology-led innovation in the broadcast sector as well as in mobile, digital and data. Special zones that harness the entrepreneurial spirit in M&E areas need to be created. We can develop a world class cinema ecosystem and help revive cinema in many countries. In addition, tourism infrastructure linked to our film and entertainment industry can be created.


CVL Srinivas is CEO GroupM South Asia


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