Remove barriers for TV content trade

Mumbai, Mar 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2007, 07:22am hrs
India shares common cultural values with other Asian countries, and therefore has a huge potential of sharing television content with countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, opined television heads from various countries at FICCI-Frames 2007, in Mumbai.

The delegates discussed venues for strengthening the trade of content in the Saarc region at a session titled The Asian TV Market. Various speakers pointed out that most Asian nations have placed barriers on foreign content.

Anuradha Prasad, managing director, BAG Films, gave an example of how the Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network (SABTNL), a content provider for cable television, has entered into a 50:50 joint venture agreement with Sri Lankas Sirasa TV, of the Maharaja group. She said, Under the agreement, SABTNL provides concepts and technical expertise to produce content jointly for Sirasa TV. As part of the deal, the company has offered some of its popular television programmes. However, these programmes will be remade incorporating local flavour.

Talking about strengthening the trade of content between India and Pakistan, Imran Aslam, president, Independent Media Corporation Pvt Ltd, Pakistan, said, Regulators and governments of both the countries are slow in opening up the content market. If regulatory barriers are removed, then the market can grow.

He cited the example of how Pakistani serials like Dhoop Kinare,were telecast in India in the 1990s and were a big hit. If content resources are shared without the fear of media monopoly and cultural invasion, then the industry can grow, he said, adding the example of how recently, the Indian media called up Pakistans largest broadcaster, Geo TV, for sharing the footage of their office being ransacked by the police. In future, there can be a stronger platform for sharing of content , he suggested.

However, some of the key issues highlighted that pertained to the Indian television industry, were that broadcasters have 80% rights to the revenues, leaving hardly 20% for the producers of the serial. The entire marketing of the serial is left with the broadcaster, which is unfair to the producers. Janine Stein, editorial director, Content Asia, Singapore, said that in most Asian countries including India, there was an urgent need for content collaboration across boundaries. There is a need for huge players and trained resources. Also, governments should take some measures to formulate some workable polices.