India Looking for Deeper Ties as Global Content Leader

By Pickle  October 16, 2023
India Looking for Deeper Ties as Global Content Leader, Pickle Media

As India takes a leap to become a global content leader, Dr.Abhay Sinha, Director General, Services Exports Promotion Council, highlights India’s burgeoning role in the global audio-visual industry and the strides made by the AVGC sector in the country. Over 40 Indian audio-visual companies and studios are part of SEPC’s India Pavilion at MIPCOM Cannes

In an interview with Pickle, Dr.Abhay Sinha, Director General of the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC), discusses India’s thriving audio-visual industry and the pivotal role of the AVGC sector. Dr. Sinha highlights SEPC’s initiatives in forging international connections and leveraging co-production treaties, while also introducing the Indian Content Guide. This comprehensive compendium aims to facilitate creative collaborations across platforms, fostering ‘Make In India’ content for a global audience. As the India Pavilion at MIPCOM expands its footprint, Dr. Sinha envisions deeper ties with esteemed production houses and creators, solidifying India’s position in the global content landscape.

India is emerging as the world’s content hub. Could you elaborate on how India is positioned to lead the transformation in the audio-visual sector with content being the driving force?

Thanks to steadfast support from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, we are on track to become the world’s content hub, producing a wide range of content in a variety of languages and genres. It is now abundantly clear that content is the primary driving force behind the current audio-visual sector transformation, and that various technologies are tools used by services to accelerate the process. Everything that needs to be done can now be done in India, whether it is services, production, or any type of creative output.

Could you elaborate the role SEPC plays in fostering international connections at Mipcom?

The Services Export Promotion Council has been instrumental in promoting India’s audio-visual sector on various platforms. SEPC is proud to present the India Pavilion at MIPCOM 2023 for the fourth year, showcasing a diverse range of services offered by Indian audio-visual companies and fostering vital connections with overseas production houses.This platform will facilitate collaborations with overseas production houses and give a major boost to the sector.

Could you shed light on the policy initiatives and measures taken by the government to facilitate the growth of the AVGC sector?

India has one of the most liberal investment regimes in the media and entertainment sector. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permitted up to 100% in film-related activities, advertising, AVGC sector, publishing, and more. Recently, with the AVGC Promotion Task Force submitting its report for Cabinet approval, soon a comprehensive policy is on the anvil which will give further clarity on regulations and create new growth avenues.

India has made significant strides in ease of doing business. How has this positively impacted the media and entertainment industry, particularly for international filmmakers?

India’s progress in ease of doing business, as reflected in its rise on the World Competitiveness Index, has greatly facilitated the media and entertainment industry. The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) acts as a single window clearance for international productions, making it easier for them to film in India. The F Visa, simplified entry for international filmmakers, and integration with ASI and Ministry of Railways further streamline the process.

India has established co-production treaties with several countries. How has this facilitated collaborations and the shooting of foreign films in India?

India’s co-production treaties with various countries have opened up opportunities for collaborations and foreign film shoots in India. The recently announced incentive scheme for co-production and foreign film shootings is poised to unleash the full potential of the M&E industry, providing a significant boost to the sector.

Could you shed light on the salient features of thisincentives  scheme and how it aims to boost the M&E industry?

Certainly. The incentive scheme for co-productions and foreign film shoots is a significant step towards unleashing the full potential of the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry in India. Here are some of the key features of the scheme:

For all qualifying projects, the international film production company can claim a payable cash incentive of up to 30% on Qualifying Expenditure in India, subject to a maximum of INR 2 crore (USD 260,000).

In the case of foreign film shootings in India, an additional 5% bonus up to a maximum of INR 50 lakhs (USD 65,000) as additional reimbursement would be granted for employing 15% or more manpower in India.

To be eligible for the scheme, the filmmakers need to ensure that the project must have been granted the “Co-Production” status by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the participating country must fall under one of India’s official bilateral co-production treaties on Audio-Visual Co-production.

Projects that have been granted official Co-production Status after May 1, 2022, are eligible for the incentive. Similarly, international productions that have been granted shooting permission by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Ministry of External Affairs (for documentaries only) after May 1, 2022, are also eligible for the incentive.

The incentives will be disbursed in two stages—Interim and Final. The Final disbursement claim can be made only once the project is complete in India, as per the guidelines under the scheme. Incentives are provided on the recommendation of a Special Incentive Evaluation Committee.

This scheme is aimed at not only attracting more foreign productions to India but also encouraging co-productions that will lead to the exchange of creative ideas and techniques, further enriching the global entertainment landscape.

How the Indian Content Guide influences creative collaborations across different platforms and contribute to the ‘Create In India’ initiative?

The Indian Content Guide is an exciting initiative. It is designed to be a comprehensive compendium, creating pathways for creative individuals to collaborate across various platforms and generate content under the ‘CreateIn India’ initiative. It provides a vital resource for those seeking to engage with India’s audio-visual sector on a global scale.

Can you also elaborate on how the Guide aids companies in finding co-production partners, sales agents, and buyers? How does it highlight India’s strengths and services in the audio-visual sector?

The Indian Content Guide is a valuable resource for companies seeking co-production partners, sales agents, and buyers. It provides a detailed directory of audio-visual projects, covering various verticals within the sector. It showcases India’s strengths and services in the audio-visual domain, while also spotlighting government initiatives aimed at creating a conducive environment for business. Over 160 properties are listed in this catalogue. We will distribute and make sure it reaches stakeholders at MICPOM.

 How does MIPCOM serve as a pivotal platform for smaller enterprises in this dynamic ecosystem?

The audio-visual industry has seen a transformative shift, with technology acting as a catalyst for its evolution. Digitization and widespread internet accessibility have significantly lowered entry barriers for smaller enterprises specializing in content creation. MIPCOM is a crucial platform for these companies to showcase their expertise, especially in a landscape where geographical boundaries have dissolved.

Could you shed light on SEPC’s strategies for fostering partnerships and leveraging co-production treaties to expand India’s market share in the global audio-visual industry?

Certainly. SEPC is resolutely focused on forging new ties with the goal of promoting higher value creation through Intellectual Property. We are also leveraging India’s co-production treaties and free trade agreements to access markets in ASEAN, Australia, and the UAE. The ultimate aim is to increase India’s market share in the global audio-visual industry.

What can we expect from the India Pavilion at MIPCOM this year? Are there any specific goals or objectives you hope to achieve with the expanded presence?

The India Pavilion at MIPCOM this year promises to be even more expansive and dynamic. We anticipate forging deeper ties with a plethora of esteemed production houses and creators. Our objective is to further enhance the visibility and impact of India’s audio-visual industry on the global stage.

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