Given the glitz and glamour surrounding it, one hardly thinks of the media and entertainment (M&E) space as one which has big potential to create thousands of jobs. But the fact is the industry today employs over a million people, and that is just the direct headcount; were one to take into account the many small ancillary units leaning on the industry, the number would be 3.5-4 million. Indeed, a new BCG report puts the employment impact multiplier of the M&E space at a high 3.6, on a par with that in hospitality, and much ahead of business services that include IT and BPO which has a multiplier of 2.9. In other words, creating one job in M&E means creating 3.6 jobs for the economy. That is a tremendous impact being driven mainly by the accompanying growth in communication and electronic equipment—TV sets, mobile handsets, which contribute anywhere between 20% and 30% of indirect revenues—as well as electricity. Additionally, financial services, infrastructure and transportation bring in close to 30-40% of the consumption of services outside of core media.
While the authors of the report believe it should be possible to create 700,000-800,000 direct jobs in the next few years, they draw attention to the fact that the skills and talents needed in future would be different, much as is the case in other parts of the economy. That is primarily because of the big change in the way content is delivered and consumed. The change is already under way with more content being viewed on mobile phones as both phones and data costs become cheaper and internet penetration improves. India’s 250 million digital screens already outnumber television and film screens together. Whether the skills called for in M&E will be fungible across radio, television or films, as many skills are today, is hard to say. But there will be a fair bit of up-skilling needed, and the government needs to supplement the efforts of industry bodies and academia in facilitating this. Pertinently, the authors of the report point out that the current ecosystem does not cater to the requirements for such a large number of jobs. This alert needs to be heeded; it would be a pity if such a big opportunity is not exploited. With the impact of demonetisation fading, M&E is estimated to grow by 10-11% in the next five years, adding some `3.5 lakh crore of revenue to the economy. It is important the government addresses the opportunity. For perspective, India’s current M&E revenues are `1.3 lakh crore, less than 1% of GDP and about a tenth of the revenues generated by China’s M&E. This could be much more given the huge emerging demand for entertainment and the increasing share of disposable incomes being spent on it.