Media landscape has transformed tremendously over past two decades: Manish Tewari

Last Updated: Sat, Aug 24, 2013 12:50 hrs

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Saturday said the media landscape has transformed exponentially over the past two decades, and added that this transformation has brought its own set of challenges to the media industry.

"We live in an era of an information overload. The media landscape has transformed exponentially over the past 2 decades. This transformation has brought its own set of challenges to the media industry. India today mirrors the world in global cross media consumption patterns," he said on the occasion of inauguration of the National Media Centre.

Tewari said that twenty years after the National Media Centre was first conceptualized during the 8th five year plan (1992-97), it is finally ready to make its debut among the institutions that underpin our democratic edifice.

"While we have endeavoured to create a space we hope thought leaders, scholars, media professionals and people in public affairs would invigorate it into a vibrant institution that reinforces the core value of the idea of India," he said.

He also expressed concern over the changes happening in the print industry globally and added that it is distressing to learn that iconic newspapers and magazines around the world are ceasing to print.

"However India seems to have bucked the trend. The Indian newspaper market will be the only one to grow at a double-digit C.A.G.R. [Compounded Annual Growth Rate] of 10% and would emerge as the world's sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017 as per industry reports on media and entertainment," he said.

"The regional and vernacular print sector is growing on the back of rising literacy and low print media penetration as well as the heightened interest of advertisers wanting to leverage these markets," he added.

While commenting on the Indian broadcasting sector, Tewari said that it has grown from one channel in 1991 to 852 at the last count.

"After statutory rationalization the number now stands at 795 odd channels. While this has brought about plurality it has resulted in market fragmentation also," he said.

"There are 15.4 crore TV households in India. Unfortunately, the news and current affairs genre makes up only 7 percent of the total television viewership. The remaining 93% of this universe is occupied by general entrainment channels despite there being 395 odd news and current affairs channels," he added.

He further said that this generates hope that there is an exponential potential for growth provided news broadcasters and Multi System Operators (MSO's) are prepared to re-imagine their content and carriage paradigms respectively.

Tewari also stated that in both print and television genres, the revenue model remain heavily dependent on advertising.

"To give consumers the benefit of better quality of service and correct the skewed revenue models in the broadcasting sector government launched a massive digitization exercise in 2012. With 10 million set top boxes seeded in Phase-I, another 20 million in Phase-II and yet another 80 million scheduled for Phase-III and IV, by the end of 2014 no one in the Broadcasting Sector can really say that bottom-lines and balance sheets in August 2013 are not looking better than in October, 2012," he said.

"The MSME sector must also endeavour to leverage this unique business opportunity and convert it into the India digitization story even in manufacturing terms," he added.

He further said that for the news broadcasting industry, the advertisement cap requires a migration path synchronous with the roll out of digitization.

"I hope the T.R.A.I. would give it re-consideration to this issue," he added.

Manish Tewari also said that the new frontier is digital, which according to Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, represents the largest ungoverned space on planet earth and the new media rides on the back of this World Wide Web.

He asserted that this is truly the medium of the future because in India alone there are 86.7 crore mobile phone users, 12.4 crore internet users which is expected to grow to 37 crores by 2017, 8 crore people on facebook and 1.8 crore on Twitter.

He added that the Government had recently taken a decision to create a New Media Wing in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to have an institutional presence in this virtual civilization.

Tewari said that radio is yet another medium that till a decade back was considered a casualty of the tectonic technological shifts but now stands poised on the threshold of a new wave.

"High mobile penetration and cheap call rates in our country have brought this renaissance into replay," he said.

He further said that he film medium is another sector which completed 100 years recently and added that industry has grown but still has tremendous potential.

"A committee under Chief Justice (Retd.) Mukul Mudgul is winding down it's remit to overhaul the archaic Cinematographic Act of 1952. Another task force under the leadership of Sam Pitroda is also close to finalizing their recommendations on a comprehensive restructuring of Prasar Bharti," he said.

Tewari asserted that the media sector is projected to grow at 15 percent between 2012-2017.

"The Industry reports indicate the media sector has grown by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (C.A.G.R.) of over 9 percent between 2007 and 2012 and is projected to grow at 15 percent between 2012 and 2017," he added.

Tewari, however, said that there are some paradoxes that all stakeholders in this sector must try and collectively resolve.

"Paradox of the short fuse- Increased information dissemination mechanisms qua-increased intolerance of the others point of view, Paradox of Flawed Revenue Models qua Questionable Revenue Generation practices, Paradox of TRPs qua truth, Media Trials qua a Fair Judicial Trail guaranteed by article 21 of the constitution, Anonymity masquerading as privacy in the new media space-the spectre of the 'hidden' people, Non emergence of global rules of engagement in the virtual civilization, Last mile neutrality among carriage providers so that content providers get a level playing field and are able to reap the benefits of convergence," he said.

Tewari also said that the UPA Government's media philosophy has been an essay in persuasion and not an essay in regulation.

"While appreciating the role that various mediums of the media have played over the years, as we try and catalyze the growth ambience in this sector, it is my responsibility to flag the aberrations and gaps and see how they can be surmounted with the co-operation of all concerned to ensure that discourse remains constructive," he said. (ANI)

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