This story first appeared in DNA Money edition on Thursday March 24, 2011.
James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation for Europe and Asia, believes that India’s creative force is still a sleeping tiger waiting to be awakened.
Speaking at the inaugural function of FICCI-Frames 2011in Mumbai, he said that the impressive achievements of the country, in the last two decades, have not even begun to fulfil the potential and that one can only imagine what the way forward will be.
“When I say imagination, I’m not talking about pie in the sky.I’m thinking about the possibilities in a real and tangible way,” said Murdoch. “If India’s economy had a creative sector on the scale, relative to the overall GDP, of Britain for example, instead of a $15 billion industry we would be talking about a $120 billion industry. And if the industry was anywhere close to that number, imagine how many million jobs a creative sector that size would produce each year for Indian people,” he said.
Given the magnitude, the industry would have had a significantly wide reach, thereby revolutionising sectors like education and health care, while ensuring that the country has a voice matching its importance in global affairs. “We all know that even at rest tigers are impressive and other animals are careful to give them respect. Yet only when a tiger is awake and engaged can we appreciate its force and majesty.That is our challenge with India’s creative sector - to imagine what this slumbering tiger might do in the right environment,” he said.
So what would such an environment really look like?
“It would be one that puts a premium on creativity.An economy that encourages people to take risks to bring new and better products to market and rewards them when they are successful.It would also be infrastructure that takes advantage of the best that modern technology has to offer and ensures that Indians can compete with anyone, anywhere, any time,” he said.
Achieving this, he said, requires focus on to two broad areas - digitisation of infrastructure and bringing Indian creators and storytellers to the world’s conversations.
“Digitisation is the key to unlocking the potential of the creative sector.With digitisation, the Indian industry will finally have the incentives to invest and create.More importantly, Indian customers will have content and choice worthy of their nation’s rich diversity. As for taking creative talent to the world that can only be done by ensuring that India’s creative market is competitive at home,” he said.
The best way to accelerate the liberalisation of digital broadcasting, Murdoch said, would mean allowing greater investment and greater latitude for innovation, including vertical integration of content companies and satellite distributors.
“Transparent, deregulated, market-based and addressable digitisation will unleash a content revolution in India. Viewers deserve choice. In a vast and diverse country like India, no channel can try to be everything to everyone and yet the prevailing regulatory system forces channels to adopt a uniform ad-dependant business model,” he said.