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OTT parks in Maharashtra to make sector content?

In a push to the growing streaming services market, the Maharashtra government plans to unveil a series of sops for the sector. This is likely to include ‘over-the-top (OTT) parks’ to streamline post-production activities being catalysed on the lines of Information Technology (IT) parks in Maharashtra. The state may roll out a package of concessions for this industry as part of the policy for the IT and ITES sector that is in the works. This policy is expected to be tabled before the state government in a month.

“We are planning to include the technology-oriented component of the OTT sector in the forthcoming IT policy,” said Dr P Anbalagan, chief executive officer (CEO), Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). “They need buildings, connectivity, dormitories… the post-production consists of IT (functions) like visual effects, uploading,” he noted, adding that they would focus on promoting both, pre and post-production activities.

These incentives will include flexibility in norms like Floor Space Index (FSI) and Development Control Regulations (DCR), stamp duty concessions and rules on lines of integrated townships that allow private land to be notified as such. This will ensure the setup of OTT parks on lines of IT townships to make it easy for industry players to function and streamline their activities.

Like the film cities, where units shoot movies or serials, these space in the OTT parks can be offered on rent for production houses to undertake post-production work and streamline their activities.

The IT policy is in the final stages and is expected to be submitted to the state government soon for approval by the state cabinet. Anbalagan added that if the need arose, they could also formulate a separate policy for the sector in the future.

Nitin Vaidya, director, Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), welcomed the move and noted that like the 1990s had seen the growth of the television sector, OTT platforms were the growth sectors for the future. He however urged the government to create state-of-the art infrastructure, including venues for shooting, post-production activities and data centres.

“Despite the fact that Bollywood is one of the identities of Mumbai and Maharashtra, there has been little support from the government. In fact, in the recent years, the sector has developed sans any government aid. The last major government-led initiative for the film and television sector was the development of the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari (Goregaon Film City) in 1977,” said Vaidya. He added that while the OTT sector was expected to grow fast, there was little infrastructure support from either the Central or the State Government.

Inadequate infrastructure and high demand at the Goregaon film city and Kolhapur Chitranagari had led to producers scouting for locations at Malvani, Madh, Bhayander and Naigaon near Virar.

The television sector, including Hindi and regional channels, had an estimated turnover of ₹40,000 crore in the current financial year. Explaining the employment generation potential of the sector, Vaidya said an estimated number of 143 shows were being shot for the small screen in Maharashtra. While Hindi shows employ an average of 150 people on the sets, the number was at a lower 70 for Marathi. Vaidya noted that considering an estimated 100 people per show, this translated into an average of 14,000 people. The number of those working in film and OTT post-production activities was also significant, and hence a growth in this sector would translate into significant job creation in Maharashtra. Hindustan Times

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