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M&E Sector Seeks Infrastructure Status, Say 20% Workforce May Lose Jobs

While the media and entertainment (M&E) has been hit hard due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, some policy decisions in the short term can aid in the sector’s recovery, said experts at FICCI Frames 2020.

One of the most sought after demands from many industry players was the infrastructure status for the M&E sector.

Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, said the ministry is supportive of granting infrastructure status to the M&E industry and it raised the issue with the Ministry of Finance as well.

While the Ministry of Finance has no objection, they have sought clarity on how do you define infrastructure status for M&E, he added.

In the short term, other policy decisions that can help in the sector’s recovery include tax burden on DTH (direct to home) and radio, allowing theatres to be used for multiple activities like sports games and educational activities and elimination of local taxation.

Adding to this, Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager and Vice President, Google India, and Chairman with FICCI Media and Entertainment Committee, said, “The broadcasting sector can benefit by a light-touch regulatory approach. Can CSR money be used to advertise products and services that are beneficial to consumers? All this will ensure that the industry pulls through the next one year with minimal impact to both lives and livelihood.”

Talking about the impact of COVID-19, Gupta said the “M&E sector will shrink to $15 billion in 2020 and 20 percent of our workforce will lose their jobs.”

In terms of advertising revenue, which is the lifeline of the industry, he said that the same has fallen by 50 percent to 90 percent in the last few months.

Gupta also pointed out that there can be no compelling ‘Make in India’ story than M&E. “We have the story and story tellers. The Indian media industry is the biggest by output. Over 500,000 hours of TV content is created every year, 80,000 newspapers are published daily and 1,600 films are produced every year. And 90 percent of this output is conceptualised, shaped and produced in India. Very few industries can claim this kind of indigenous creation. Be it electronics, handsets or auto. Even with factories in India, they assemble parts from different countries in the world,” he said.

He also cited examples of India’s contribution to the global creative industry. “We are global leaders in technology across animation and VFX. The dragons in Game of Thrones were made by an animation studio in Mumbai. More than a decade back, the VFX for Avatar was powered by an Indian firm,” he noted.

According to Gupta, a joint forum of both government and creative industry representatives can unlock the value for both and strong examples of this are countries like UK, South Korea, and Japan.

“Creative industry council in the UK worked on aspects like finance, skills, exports market, IP (Intellectual Property) and solved it by providing strategic long-term framework for each of these issues. This helped UK’s creative economy to cross the 100 billion pound mark in 2017,” he said.

“India can be a $100 billion industry by 2030, with forward looking policy initiatives like simplification of taxation framework and support to accelerate export of films and games,” he added. Money Control

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