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Disney topper points to Indian opportunities

Screwvala speaks at Asian Media Summit

SINGAPORE — The Disney India topper has tubthumped the country, saying it offers a unique opportunity for growth as there are few rules stopping foreign ownership of entertainment assets.

Speaking at the Asian Media Summit on Sentosa Island in Singapore, Ronnie Screwvala said, “India is one of the least regulated countries in the world. Other than news channels, anyone can have 100% foreign investment, and nowhere else has that.”

He also pointed to the potential for growth in a country where almost half the population is under 25.

Walt Disney Co. India was formed in January this year when Disney bought a controlling stake in Indian producer UTV via a subsidiary, making it the leading film studio in the subcontinent, producing UTV and Mouse House pics.

Screwvala told the summit on Tuesday that, although regulatory and other hurdles remain, rapid expansion of digitization in India would translate into significant growth,

Cinema remained the “larger than life brand image,” he said. “A lot has happened in that space. Broadly we have moved substantially to digital screens.”

Smallscreen revenue is also rising, he added, while the market for content on cell phones is expanding.

“There are 900 million phones in India, of which 100 million are smartphones, and this makes an extremely interesting market,” he said.

Crucial to the development of the TV and film market in India will be combatting illegal downloads and monetizing content.

“People will have to start paying for it, whether they like it or not, which is something we haven’t been doing for the last 20 years,” said Screwvala.

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