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'Indian media has a great future'

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 13:02 IST
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The Indian media industry is on a very strong wicket, says Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, author of The Indian Media Business.

At the launch of a revised edition of her best-selling book on media here, she said: "Democracy without a growing economy or a huge population of young and middle aged people with more time and money to spend on various media would have meant little.

"Mix them up and the media and entertainment industry has the potential to become as big as India's telecom industry," Kohli-Khandekar, who is also Businessworld's associate editor, told IANS.

The new edition (Sage, Rs 395), which is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the Indian media industry covering all major segments - print, TV, films, music, radio, Internet and telecom, adds revised and updated statistics.

What made her place the Indian media under scrutiny?

"A lack of comprehensive reference material for the average media student interested in the evolution of the media in India," Kohli-Khandekar explained.

In 2000, she had researched the issue of copyrights in digital music as a fellow with the Cambridge University. She also began lecturing at the Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai.

"It was then that I realised there was no comprehensive reference book for students looking at the India media," she said. The book idea came along and she did the basic research work while being a "full time journalist" with the Anand Bazar Patrika group.

"When a major portion of the material was gathered, I took two weeks off and dashed off the main chapters. I wanted to tell all that I knew and had learnt about the media," she said.

Already the Indian media business is worth $9 billion and yet it is only a small bit of the global media and entertainment industry, which was worth $1,375 billion in 2005.

The author also looks at China, an immediate neighbour and India's competitor in almost every field. "A Balaji Telefilm or UTV kind of listing is unheard of in China," she said.

China has the demand but not the freedom to develop content as India does, she said. For 10 hours of content and programming required, only one hour is available to channels beaming in China.

That is why China has seen very little strategic investment in the media business, she added.

India, on the other hand, is thriving under a democratic form of governance, "and the media business in India is on a very strong wicket", Kohli-Khandekar said.

The economy is booming, investment is flowing in, newer magazines and newspapers are starting, TV viewer-ship is growing everyday, even radio station listeners, internet users, bloggers, demand for ring tones and remixes are growing by the hour.

About the Electronic Media Monitoring Committee blocking out blogs due to security concerns, she said: "What we need is a convergence bill that takes care of all eventualities, mobile, TV, or any other future technologies also, not just a broadcast bill.

"As long as the laws for competition and foreign investment are clearly specified, the rest, including content regulation, should be left to the industry.

"Eventually in any business, competition and technology are the great levellers," Kohli-Khandekar added.

"The convergence bill was an excellent piece of legislation. It covered all aspects of media and gave broad guidelines, providing for technologies of the future. It was modelled on a Malayasian legislation, which is very progressive."

Will India's media business be affected by the recent and future strictures? "Not at all. Restrictions come as trough and crest," Kohli-Khandekar said

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