Predatory pricing never did good for any industry, said Goyal on film industry taking the direct OTT route.
As the media and entertainment industry is under stress due to coronavirus, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, said it is important now more than ever to for everyone to work together.
On the last day of FICCI Frames, while discussing the way forward for M&E and putting COVID behind, Goyal raised concern over filmmakers and producers taking their films to video-streaming platforms first instead of waiting for theatres to reopen.
“Multiplexes have been pleading with the film industry not to give out films to OTTs. This is another example of the industry not being one. How do you expect investments to flow into cinema when films are going directly to OTTs?” he asked.
From Ayushmann Khurrana and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Gulabo Sitabo to Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb, many big and small films have taken the direct OTT route in times of COVID-19 due to uncertainty around reopening of cinema halls.
Goyal added, "While this sounds exciting in the short run, predatory pricing never did good for any industry. In the long run, when the cinema sector is gone because of this approach and there is proliferation of OTTs, can you imagine what will happen to the film industry?”
He urged the M&E industry “to work as one supporting each other to see organised growth in the industry”.
The minister also questioned self-regulation for OTTs.
He said, “I don’t want my child exposed to some of the stuff on international transmission. There is lot of misinformation and a lot of misrepresentation of Indian culture. There are certain challenges to allow global content to resonate indiscriminately. While I appreciate self-regulation, the industry is fighting cats and dogs for settling copyright issues.”
Goyal said while some industries have worked well with self-regulation, many have failed.
Goyal pointed out few other things, including orderly minimum wage, social security, healthcare schemes to ensure every stakeholder gets quality of life.
He also added that the film industry needs to be successful beyond boundaries of India.
“I remember when Mera Naam Joker tanked in India and did well overseas. Dangal did both well in India and China,” said Goyal.
He also added, “If any country is creating roadblocks for Indian films to be shown there, we will ensure India will reciprocate and not show their content in India.”
Goyal further mentioned that in advertising, India can look at global domination.
Along with Goyal, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Founder and MD, Roy Kapur Films and President- Producers Guild of India also shared his thoughts on the M&E sector.
Kapur said, “In 2019, the M&E industry contributed USD 50 billion to the economy. We employ around 26 lakh people. M&E is a significant contributor to the economy and should be looked at as soft power.”
He urged government to help in areas like screen density and single window clearance for film shooting.
“Between Andheri and Juhu link road, the number are screens are more than number of screens in the state of Bihar. You will see the disparity that exists in terms of some places which are more saturated in number of screens and some places under screened. If in some way we can collaborate with the government to ensure some incentives to exhibitors to enhance their footprint,” said Kapur.
He further asked for some measures in ease of doing business in terms of shooting.
“There will be lot of curtailment in our ability to go abroad which we were doing because of the incentives the countries were offering. If our states can provide incentives to visit the states travel and tourism will get a boost. Plus, some form of single window clearance will be helpful,” he added.Responding to Kapur’s request for single window clearance for film shooting, Goyal said,” We can get everybody on board, simplify the process with a single form and one fees could be done. My Ministry along with I&B Ministry will be happy to take it up. We are doing this for other industries and would love to do it for you too.”