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Blow to film releases, fresh content for TV

The Hindi entertainment industry has suffered a fresh jolt with Maharashtra suspending shooting of films and TV serials till April 30, in a bid to contain the massive rise in the Covid-19 cases. Industry observers said this will adversely impact Hindi movie releases as well as availability of fresh content on television and OTT platforms and also escalate costs for filmmakers and content producers.

Gautam Jain, Partner, Ormax Media said, “The partial lockdown and halt on film shooting in Maharashtra will impact the entire value chain for the film industry as well as TV and OTT platforms. Films getting postponed will result in multiple clash releases as and when theatres open, as Hindi, Hollywood and Pan-India films vie for audiences’ attention.

“Additionally, films which have held on for more than a year have the additional worry that they may start looking old.”

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said the decision has brought the Hindi film industry to a standstill. “Some film makers may look at shifting shooting locations to other States but that requires a lot of planning in terms of crew, locations, logistics as well as safety and travel protocols,” he added.

Content pipeline
Sources said that the broadcasters will now be relying on their content pipeline especially for daily TV soaps. But it all depends on the kind of bank they have of fresh content and that may vary significantly from about 3 days to 10 days depending on the format of the TV series and shooting schedules.

Jehil Thakkar, Partner, Deloitte India, said, “Films that are under-production will be more impacted as their delivery costs will escalate. This could also impact availability of fresh content on TV channels as broadcasters may start running out of fresh content in the next few days. If the restriction on shooting extends beyond April 30, then it will have an even more significant impact on the entertainment industry.” Nitin Tej Ahuja, CEO of Producers Guild of India stated, “The suspension of shooting will obviously have an adverse impact for content producers, not just financially but also in terms of meeting delivery commitments. However, we appreciate that the Covid situation in Mumbai and Maharashtra is very grave indeed and we will of course abide by the restrictions imposed by the Honourable Chief Minister.”

To seek relaxations
Industry associations are also planning to approach the Maharashtra government to petition for some relaxations for resumption of shooting activities and relief especially for the workers in the industry that are paid on a daily basis. J.D. Majethia, Chairman of the Indian Film and TV Producers Council said, “We are chalking out plans for stringent safety measures, such as setting up a bio-bubble, that the industry can adopt to continue shooting in the pandemic times and will approach the state government in the next few days.”

As per a FICCI-EY report, the Indian Media and Entertainment sector declined by 24 per cent to ₹1.38 lakh crore ($19 billion) in 2020. The TV industry alone declined by 13 per cent as advertising revenues were badly hit during the national lockdown last year. The Hindu Business Line

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