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Minister for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari says news broadcasters need to change their content strategy. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Minister for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari says news broadcasters need to change their content strategy. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Govt likely to decide on FDI in media on Friday: Manish Tewari

Manish Tewari says Indian media has shown robust growth despite a slowdown in the economy

New Delhi: The government is likely to decide on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in media later on Friday, Manish Tewari, minister for information and broadcasting, said on the sidelines of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Big Picture Summit in New Delhi.

“As we speak, there is an inter-ministerial committee which is considering the issue today. I can’t second-guess what the inter-ministerial committee would come to," said Tewari. He did not offer more details.

During his keynote address, Tewari said the Indian media and entertainment industry has shown robust growth despite a slowdown in the economy.

“Despite a relative slowdown in the broader economy, the Indian entertainment and media industry has exhibited rather robust growth in the past year. From 80,500 crore in 2011, revenues have grown to 96,500 crore in 2012. While TV and print sectors would dominate the industry with 40% and 22% of contribution to gross revenues, this mix would change by 2017, with 28% of the industry revenue coming from Internet access," he said.

India’s print media industry, he said, should be commended for its relatively strong showing. “At a point in time when iconic print institutions around the world are shutting shop, the Indian print industry continues to grow at a very robust rate of 10%. By 2017, it would be the 6th largest print market in the world," said Tewari.

On the broadcast sector, Tewari said news broadcasters need to change their content strategy.

“The irony really is the broadcasting sector... between 1991 and 2013 has grown from one TV channel to 798 at the last count. But news broadcasting represents only 7% of the entire television universe," he said. “I do think they require help with their distribution scheme and the government has been very proactively working to see where the bottlenecks with regard to distribution are streamlined as much as possible in the short time that we have started implementing digitization."

But Uday Shankar, chief executive officer, Star India Pvt. Ltd, criticized the various government policies formulated for the media sector. “Successive governments have created a web of policies and regulations which while they may have had the honourable intent of protecting the consumer has had exactly the opposite effect," said Shankar.

He highlighted the restrictions on tariff in particular, saying these hinder news channels from producing good quality of content.

“There is no question at all that it is the restrictive tariff regime that has prevented news broadcasters from producing high quality content for an audience that is much smaller than that available for general entertainment or sports," Shankar said. “Ironically, a regime that was brought to protect the consumer has ended up doing the most damage to consumer choice and quality."

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