INTERVIEW | Social media platforms should compensate content creators: I&B Secy
National Film Development Corporation of India and Prasar Bharati are working on a plan to develop an OTT platform, says I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra
Stressing that the content on social media is mostly derived that from newspapers and other local sources, I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra reiterated original content producers should be compensated for this. In an exclusive interview with Parvez Sultan, he also unveiled the government’s elaborate plans for the entertainment and media sector, particularly the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics sub-segment where talent is available in abundance. Excerpts:
On a couple of occasions, you had suggested that social media platforms, generating revenue from news content, should share proceeds with content producers/news agencies. Can this become reality in India?
This arrangement exists in Australia and also in some other countries, including Canada and the European Union. We need to think about how this can be executed in our country. This is certainly needed. But how could this be done, whether, through the enactment of a law or competition law, this aspect needs to be examined.
Why is it needed?
Content on social media is from newspapers or some other sources, which are the content producers. Some aggregators are just exhibiting the content. Nowadays, consumption of news is mostly on the internet and print-run of newspapers and magazines are reducing. Therefore content producers should get the proper financial benefit from this trend. If content production is not good, the quality (of content) will deteriorate in the future.
Will there be an OTT platform of Prasar Bharati in near future?
The National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) and the Prasar Bharati have ‘thoughts’ on this. Work is being done. Let’s see how it progresses. An OTT platform needs technical and market support also. Prasar Bharati has content. But the content should be interesting; viewers should watch. At present, Prasar Bharati doesn’t have any platform where it could telecast old programmes, except Youtube and for that OTT is needed.
When will streaming of high-quality entertainment content or films on mobile phones without data consumption become reality?
Prasar Bharati did an experiment with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. That is technically successful. Content can be seen on mobile directly without the internet. To take it further, transmitters on cellular towers and chips in mobile phones are required. People, who will provide these services, will need to work with Prasar Bharati. Technically it is proven; discussions are going on about this.
You have said that the media and entertainment (E&M) sector will help grow the Indian economy. What are the specific plans to boost the sector?
The Entertainment and Media (E&M) sector at present in India is nearly USD 25 million. It is expected to reach USD 70-75 billion by 2030 as the growth rate in the country is about 7 per cent. The E&M sector’s growth is about 10-11 per cent.
More scope is in one of the sub-sectors, which is Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVCG). We have sufficient technologically qualified manpower in this field. Today, animation and visual effects of big Hollywood productions are being done in India. Games are also created here in good numbers. Considering the extent of this sector, the government last year set up an AVCG promotion task force, which has submitted its recommendations. We are working on those recommendations to promote AVCG.
We also have proposed setting up the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) for the AVGC sector to help it become an international reference point across skilling, education, industry development, research and innovation. It will start this year.
The other aspect in the E&M sector is films and web series. We are looking at how we can streamline film shooting in India and how we can attract International filmmakers to conduct film shoots here? In this regard, last year an incentive scheme was launched for foreign production houses which are shot in India or their post-production work is done here. With this (incentivising international projects), we are expecting that business will grow.
States are also giving similar incentives. Incentives being offered by the states and the Central government jointly become an attractive proposition that could fetch more work or opportunities to India.
The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) portal is also being improved so that people making films face minimum hassle. Channels should have good quality content and for that, we have been facilitating them. We have set up a broadcast Seva portal so that whatever permission they require, they can get them swiftly.
How many suggestions did the ministry receive on AVCG policy? When can it be finalised?
AVCG promotion task force had industry representatives. The task force report was prepared in collaboration with industry people. The main task force had sub-task forces headed by concerned secretaries like skill development and education secretaries with industry stakeholders. We received some suggestions which were put in the public domain. Suggestions are not in large numbers because we had already roped in industry people and consulted them.
After consultation with other ministries and on getting approval from the finance ministry, we will have to take it for Cabinet approval. This process takes 3-4 months. For the Centre for Excellence, we want to work in association with the industry and take the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry as partners.
What is the idea behind ‘Model Theatre Policy’?
We want to facilitate the setting up of theatres. Theatres are also like any other establishments for which certain permissions are required from local administration to police etc. Our objective is to facilitate all those permissions.
The ministry would like to promote the ‘moving and mini theatre’ concept. They have limited capacity — 50-100 seaters — and are developed with lesser investment. We will not give them any incentives but want to facilitate them. If one wants to set up a mini theatre, he should get all requisite approvals at the earliest. The idea is to promote the industry.