Gary Spaulding, Senior Staff Reporter
India's new government has signalled that it's eyeing film-loving Jamaicans as that country's growing film industry moves to infiltrate new markets in the region.
According to Shri Prakash Javadekar, the state minister in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, his ministry has taken on the mantle of forging new paths by expanding its media and entertainment policy, for which it exercises control.
"It's a very exciting, very vibrant sector that is waiting to be exploited," said Javadekar, as he interacted with senior journalists from Jamaica and other Caribbean and Latin America nations on Monday. He stressed that the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry was full of potential and had a tremendous impact on the country's economy.
A recent KPMG report shows India's M&E industry has reached 161 million TV households; 94,067 newspapers; about 2,000 multiplexes; and 214 million Internet users, of which 130 million access the Internet on their mobile phones.
With industry growing rapidly in a country of 1.2 billion, giving the M&E industry "a tremendous opportunity for growth", there has been a registered growth of 12 per cent in 2013 and touched Rs 91,800 crore (US$15.27 billion). The industry reportedly has the potential to grow at 14.2 per cent to more than Rs1.78 trillion (US$29.61 billion) in the next four years.
The television industry in India, which was estimated at Rs41,720 crore (US$6.94 billion) in 2013, is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2 per cent over 2013-18, to reach Rs 88,500 crore (US$14.72 billion) by 2018.
"We are thinking of looking at the countries which are represented here for those who want Indian entertainment to grow," said Javadekar. "There can be new areas of cooperation among our countries," he added.
Journalists were told that the broadcasting industry, in general, is one of the fastest moving in India, and is expected to be increased by 17 per cent by 2017-2018.
Javadekar expressed confidence that Indian films are finding favour in places like Jamaica. "Not only persons from the Indian diaspora, but many others love Indian film," he asserted, while adding that there were signs that the film industry in that country was becoming a big business. "In India, this is a flourishing sector and is estimated to be growing at a rate of 17 or 18 per cent annually."
Apart from the film sector, Javadekar said the other two portfolio areas under his ministry - broadcasting and information - are growing by "leaps and bounds".
"We have the information sector, then we have the broadcasting sector, which is by and large a self-regulated landscape," said Javadekar.
He pointed to the near 100,000 publications that are registered with the Star Dusk newspaper of India, and are required to reveal their circulation figure each year.
But the government served notice that even with the rapidly expanding media landscape, it's paying much attention to feedback from the range of social media to test the pulse of the people through a communications hub that it has established. It also spends much time reviewing the news reports coming out of the various media.
"It's a way of connecting with the masses in relation to issues that concern the government," said Javadekar, even as he insisted that there is no ulterior motive in using the microscope on the media.
The ministry has had its hand full digitalising the booming cable industry. Javadekar disclosed that 16 million households are currently connected.