Discovery Kids to make Asia debut

MPAA's Chris Dodd calls for partnership in India

MUMBAI — U.S. TV and film execs threw in their rupees’ worth on the opening day of India’s entertainment biz confab Ficci-Frames.

MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd, who delivered the three-day event’s keynote address on Wednesday, was bullish about the potential of the Indian film biz.

“India’s movie industry is in transition from being a $3.2 billion industry until two years ago towards becoming a $5 billion industry in the next two years,” he said.

Dodd said that there will be increased collaboration between the Indian and U.S. film industries, but added, “Barriers that prevent production and distribution of content must be brought down.”

He drew attention to piracy in the region that costs the industry $1 billion a year. “When content is stolen, 95% of the people who contribute to the vitality and success of a film are adversely affected,” he said.

However, there’s good news for foreign films faced with gaining multiple permissions to film in the country. Ministry of information and broadcasting secretary Uday Varma said it aims to set up a film commission to put in place a single clearance mechanism

On the TV front, Discovery chief exec Mark Hollinger announced that the Discovery Kids channel will begin its Asia rollout in April, starting with India, followed by Indonesia and the Philippines.

“India is definitely poised for growth in this market. Thirty percent of the population in this country is below the age of 14,” Hollinger said.

The channel will be available in Tamil, Hindi and English languages.

India’s TV will go digital by Dec. 31, 2014, but Uday Shankar, chief exec of News Corp.’s Star India network, said the country was not ready for the move, or to find new business models for digital media.

“With universal digitization, broadcasting business models, which are built on centralized creation and distribution of content and even a centralized advertising revenue model, will come under huge pressure,” he said.

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