Indian M&E can be a $100 billion industry by 2030: Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager and Vice-President, Google India, and Chairman, FICCI Media
Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager and Vice-President, Google India, and Chairman, FICCI Media

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ reflected in the opening addresses by industry leaders and ministers alike at the inaugural session of FICCI Frames 2020, titled ‘Role of the Creative Economy to Revitalise Economic Growth’.

While delivering his address, Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager and Vice-President, Google India, and Chairman, FICCI Media and Entertainment Committee, stressed on creating a compelling ‘Make in India’ story for India’s M&E industry. “We believe we can be the ‘Creative Powerhouse’ that delivers globally and inspires the world!” Gupta exclaimed.

Following is the complete text of Sanjay Gupta’s address at FICCI Frames 2020:

“My regards to the Honourable Minister Shri Anurag Thakur, His Excellency Mr Vincenzo De Luca - Ambassador of Italy to India and all my colleagues of the Media and Entertainment industry. A very good afternoon to all of you!

When we met last year, the world was a slightly different place. We talked of the exponential impact that digital was delivering for the media and entertainment industry and how we could leverage the power of digital to truly harness the potential of the M&E sector.

And we have made progress - the industry had revenues of $20 billion in 2019 and the digital media accounted for 20% of the industry revenue. Digital media overtook filmed entertainment in 2019 to become the third largest segment of the M&E sector. Digital subscription revenues more than doubled, from the 2018 levels and the digital advertising revenues grew to command 24% share of the total advertising spend.

Through direct and indirect employment the Media & Entertainment sector employed close to 5 million people in 2019.

All this is great news. However, the world has changed in the last 4 months!

We are going through one of the most uncertain periods in our living history.  Through this period, the Media & Entertainment sector has been hit very hard. The studios are just about getting back, cinema halls are still shut and will continue to be so, most of the people continue to work from home, not everyone is comfortable getting a newspaper delivered to their homes and the advertising revenues, which is the lifeline of this industry, are down anywhere from 50% to 70% over the last few months.

If I look at the full year 2020, we will see the sector shrink from $20 billion to $15 billion. Even bigger challenge is the impact on jobs and the livelihood of those impacted. As we find ways to adapt to this new normal, it is estimated that around 15% to 20% of our workforce may lose their jobs, potentially impacting nearly a million people.

The pandemic has forced the entire world into a conversation about trade, interdependence and economic recovery. And to my mind, this is the moment for us, as an industry, to usher in a fundamental shift in the way the M&E sector works and is perceived by the world.

The world needs to see us, not just as a M&E sector solving for India - but as a Creative Powerhouse that delivers globally and inspires the world! To realise this opportunity in India, we need collective effort both from within the industry, as well as the government.

We have the stories and the storytellers! The Indian media industry is the biggest in the world by output. Over 500,000 hours of television content is made every year, 80,000 newspapers are published daily and more than 1,600 feature films are produced each year. 98% of this output is conceptualised, shaped and produced in India. Each piece is uniquely crafted, stamped through local assembly lines, distributed locally and very often exported to various parts of the world. Very few industries can claim this extent of indigenous creation. Be it Electronics, Handsets or Auto, even with factories in India, they assemble parts shipped from various countries in the world. In my mind, there can’t be a more compelling ‘Make in India’ story for this country than the media & entertainment industry.

We are one of the global leaders in technology – across graphics, animation, VFX – that is completely revamping the contours of storytelling. In fact, our technology is powering the world! The dragons in the ‘Game Of Thrones’ were created by an animation studio in Mumbai. Even more than a decade back, the visual effects for ‘Avatar’ were powered by an Indian firm. With the right support, India can become a global hub for post Production and support content production in areas like Animation/ VFX, Post production and Game development.

Ours is a country that has always been constrained by screens. There are only 9,000 theatres in the country. Then came television, which over the last three decades has grown phenomenally. Today, there are 20 crore TV screens and we add more than 1 crore new screens every year. But with the power of connectivity and low cost of data, in almost a click, about 50 crore more screens across the country have been lit up. Today, on these news screens people are watching movies, reading news, listening to songs, engaging with the best Indian drama and reality shows and learning new skills! Today, we have so many more screens where a billion Indian can engage!

This potential has become more real than ever with digital connecting audiences across the globe, providing powerful art and storytelling, a global canvas. Centuries ago, stories from India travelled across countries & continents, without conquest or without any technology. These were stories like Ramayana & Mahabharata or the tales of Gautam Buddha. If they could capture the imagination of the world just on the power of their ideas and characters, what excuse do we have today? When it comes to films, India gets less than 7% of its revenues from overseas markets. Hollywood, in contrast, earns almost 70% from the global markets. Despite years of applause for Bollywood from various corners of the world, we have still not managed to create a truly global market for our creative work.

By limiting the significance of the M&E industry to just numbers on economic value and job creation in a fragmented way as Print or TV or Radio or Gaming or Films, we have long ignored the true potential of this creative industry.

Cultural exports such as these need to be valued for their influence, and the multiplier impact they can create for other sectors of the economy as well as the strategic role they can play in positioning India on a global stage and its growing global significance.

Countries around the world like UK, South Korea and Japan provide powerful examples of how joint forums between the government and the creative industry have unlocked tremendous value for both.

The Creative Industries Council in UK worked on aspects such as access to finance, skills, export markets, regulation, IP and the infrastructure for the creative industry and solved it by providing a strategic long term framework for each of these issues. This helped the UK creative economy to cross the £100 billion mark in 2017.

We can be a $100 billion industry by 2030!

With forward looking policy initiatives, simplification of the taxation framework and adopting a light touch regulatory approach we can enable the industry to get clarity and ensure that companies can invest with a long term view to leverage the opportunity available in front of us.

We need to expedite some of the policy decisions which can help in the sector’s recovery. We need to re-calibrate some of the legislative proposals that are likely to enhance compliance burden. These proposals, if  implemented, will hit the already struggling industry.

The FICCI M&E Committee is focussed on working with the government to unlock the full potential of this industry to power India’s economic engine. We will soon come back to you, honourable Minister with our recommendations, including those emerging from the discussions@eFrames, on the way forward.

We believe we can be the “Creative Powerhouse” that delivers globally and inspires the World!

The opportunity is to not only ‘Make in India’ but “Light up the World”!


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