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Ficci/Frames Looks to Plug Into New Markets

Indian confab opens doors to global thinkers

The Indian entertainment and media industry that enjoys revenues of $17.2 billion is set to grow to $37.6 billion by 2016, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. It is a profitable but vast and fragmented sector, serving a native population of 1.2 billion who speak 22 languages. A global media executive unfamiliar with the country and its myriad entertainment cultures might well be daunted. That’s where Frames, the annual media conference in Mumbai organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), comes into play. Now in its 14th year, the conference (March 12-14) aims to unravel the complexities of doing business in such a diverse market.

Frames brings media experts from around the world on the same platform. While the issues that we discuss are India-centric, we do feel that the lessons and implications are applicable to a much wider audience,” says Uday Shankar, chair of the Ficci Media & entertainment committee and chief exec of broadcaster Star India, a News Corp. subsid.

Andy Bird, chair of Walt Disney Intl., will deliver the keynote address this year and other speakers include Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and prexy, Disney-ABC; Bob Bakish, president & CEO, Viacom Intl. Media Networks; helmers Gurinder Chadha and Mira Nair; Paul O’Hanlon, CEO, Asia Pacific, of FremantleMedia; Andy Weltman, head of international at Pinewood Studios; Andy Kaplan, president of worldwide networks, Sony Pictures Television; producers Graham Broadbent (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and David Womark (“Life of Pi”); and a host of Indian experts in their respective industries.

“We have a lot to learn from Hollywood studios — whether it is in storytelling or technology,” Shankar says. “For a Hollywood studio, India is not only an attractive investment destination, but it is also an interesting media market, with a complex and diverse audience base. From that perspective, we see potential for exchange of ideas from both sides of the world.”

While topics on the table this year include breaking the barrier between the local and the global, digitization, the economic viability of sports broadcasting and the creative impact of HD, 4K and beyond, among a host of other subjects, the main focus is on “engaging a billion consumers.”

Shankar says, “While the Indian media and entertainment industry has made spectacular progress in the last 20 years in increasing the intensity of engagement with the 1 billion strong Indian consumer base through superior content, there is still a gap in our ability to monetize the engagement and use the resources generated to advance both access and content. Frames will offer an opportunity for us to put these developments perspective, look at the larger picture and engage on such a bold and important theme.”

Frames also introduces a Euro production lounge this year to facilitate Indo-European co-productions. South Korea is the 2013 partner country and Shankar is keen to tap into their advanced skills in gaming and animation. Ficci also has a role in shaping the policy framework of the industry, with the backing of the Indian government, and solutions arrived at in Frames often become standard operating practice.

For Colin Burrows, British producer of fest faves “Watch Indian Circus” and “Nobel Thief,” Frames is a key stop on the global industry event calendar.

“This will be the sixth straight year in a row that I have attended and I’m hosting a couple of panels there again. It’s played a key role in opening up the Indian market for me with contacts, information and friendships. I wouldn’t even be working on Indian-themed projects without the insights and connections that Frames has afforded me.”

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