New technology played a large part on the second day of Ficci-Frames 2007. After surveying a small and half-empty room, Satya Prabhakar, CEO of Sulekha.com, began the second day at Ficci-Frames by saying: “Well, we’ve got Shekhar Kapur and Shabana Azmi in the next room, but I think we make up in intellect.”
Prabhakar was the moderator of a vibrant discussion on user-generated content, where representatives of Yahoo! India, Microsoft and other companies discussed the various issues that affect the use of such content. “It should be user-generated content, not user-copied content,” I.M. Swaminathan, director, communication products, Yahoo! India, said, referring to the struggle between platforms such as YouTube and Metacafe, and broadcasters whose content users uploaded.
Martin Diesbach, partner in the Munich law firm Nörr, Stiefenhofer Lutz, weighed in on copyright issues of user-generated content by asking, “Whose content is it? Who is liable? The platforms say that it is the liability of itscommunity.”
Pankaj Thakar, the CEO of Cellcast Interactive Media Pvt Ltd, which generates and distributes content, described how content from users helped create a television channel called Sumo.tv, and how starkly in contrast Indian broadcasters’ attitude towards such content was. “People want to hold on to their content because there’s no gratification,” Thakar said. “Broadcasters want to do it themselves, and mobile operators are indifferent.”
Meanwhile, in the next room, Shekhar Kapur, the director, was talking about how to use new technologies. “Consumers today have access to various different mediums and it is up to us to reach out to them through these different mediums,” he said. “Today consumers are dictating content, rather than media companies.” The actor and singer Lilly Allen, who played the lady in waiting in his film Elizabeth, is a case in point. “She just uploaded her song on this website called MySpace and her song was an instant success. Now instead of her chasing record companies, they are going after her, because that is what consumers want.”
The call to embrace new technology was echoed by T.K. Rajeev Kumar, the Kerala filmmaker, who said that regional directors and producers needed to adapt. “For an industry that was releasing 120-140 films five years ago, the numbers have dropped by half to 50-60 films a year today,” he said. “It is time directors looked beyond movie theatre releases and tapped into new opportunities, such as screening their films on television. I recently met a broadcaster who was talking about the market for these films in the Middle East. Regional films need to find the right audience and create the right ambience for consumption for their films.”
The search for the ideal balance continued in the afternoon session, when content providers, mobile technology companies and industry observers discussed how best to address consumers in a world of converging media.
“There are four trends driving significant change,” said Richard Anderson, general manager, business and entertainment, IBM. “Devices and access, behaviour shifts by buyers and advertisers, content innovation, and consumer behaviour shifts.” He said that advertisers were becoming more sophisticated with their allotments. “They’re beginning to move their money around, while consumer attention is shifting to new media.”
“It’s all about any time, any place,” said Marcel Fenez, APAC leader, entertainment and media practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “It’s our responsibility to help the consumer discover content. We are no longer the bastions.” He declared that the industry would see the rise of lifestyle advertising. “We have to talk a lot more about trust, engagement, and relevance.”