Facebook Launches Paid Online Events

admin   August 18, 2020

Now event organizers and Facebook Page owners  in 20 countries around the world including India that meet the platforms partner monetization policies can start charging for online events enabling millions of small business to make money on Facebook

Facebook has created a new events feature that would enable businesses to launch online events on their Facebook pages free of cost except for payments made via Apple’s IoS App. Facebook has mentioned that it doens’t  take a fee from purchase made via Android version of the App.

From now on small businesses, creators, artists, educators and media publishers can generate revenue from holding online events on the Facebook platform. Facebook Pages can host events on Facebook Live to reach broad audiences, and the platform is testing paid events with Messenger Rooms for more personal and interactive gatherings.

“Today we’re launching the ability for businesses, creators, educators and media publishers to earn money from online events on Facebook. Now Page owners can create an online event, set a price, promote the event, collect payment and host the event, all in one place,” said Fidji Simo, Vice President, head of Facebook App in a blog post.

Simo said Facebook requested Apple to reduce App Store’s  30 per cent commision but they refused.

“We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs (Small and Medium Businesses) will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue. While Facebook is waiving fees for paid online events we will make other fees clear in the product.”

Simo’s post stated that  Facebook saw live broadcasts from pages double in June 2020 compared to the previous year. “In our most recent State of Small Business Report with OECD and World Bank, we found that access to cash continues to be the most common ongoing challenge for SMBs. Only 19% of surveyed businesses were getting any financial help (down from earlier in pandemic). Many businesses are struggling and every cent matters. Shifting in-person events to online is costly enough that businesses shouldn’t have to worry about fees charged by platforms.”

Facebook said a one-time access charge is collected when guests register to attend. “Enabling an admission fee is done through the event set-up process and requires you to sign our terms of service and have a payment account on file”.

Simo said to support small businesses and creators, Facebook will not collect any fees from paid online events for at least the next year. “For transactions on the web, and on Android in countries where we have rolled out Facebook Pay, small businesses will keep 100% of the revenue they generate from paid online events.”

Once your Facebook page has cleared monetization review, Page owners can move forward with creating their event. For the time being, online events can only be created on a computer.

Event organisers can select one price per event. Once an event is published, the event organisers will not be able to change the price.

Paid online events are currently available to eligible Facebook Pages in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the U.K. and the U.S.

You can join Fidji Simo for a Facebook Live with entrepreneur, fitness business coach, and mentor, Rachel Holmes on Tuesday, August 18 at 9:00 AM PT. (India time August 18, Tuesday 9.30 PM).


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COVID-19 has Accelerated Digital Shift Towards Across Sectors

admin   July 13, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has marked a steep decline in the global M&E industry leaving traditional media like print, TV and advertising most affected and cinema worst affected, even as it has accelerated the shift of businesses and organizations towards digital, said Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer – WPP

Citing the example of 2008-09 economic recession, he also emphasized that some of the spend that was growing in certain traditional media may not come back. Mark said that he anticipated market cap shifting from traditional to new digital media globally.

“I think aggregate advertising spend will bounce back. I think that the biggest difference is changes in consumer behavior, which I think are resilient. We saw in the US and in the UK, in the 2008-09 financial recession, a massive decline in newspaper advertising, and a big decline in newspaper reading subscriptions, purchases, and that spend never came back,” he said.

Speaking at FICCI Frames 2020, Read emphasized that more things are expected to move towards digital powered by technology. He said that businesses including those in the M&E sector are currently witnessing a shift to digital for “many-many activities”, which was actually started before COVID-19 crisis but has been accelerated across sectors and is here to stay with big implications for office spaces.

“I think one of the challenges here has been that as our clients get used to driving demand through digital channels, they’re not going to go back to traditional media at the same pace and at the same level. So I think that we will see some decline in traditional media, and digital media’s continued acceleration in growth,” Reed observed.

He said that WP is trying to reshape the company by “really putting technology at the heart of what we want to do”.He said that in a post COVID world it would make sense to put together fantastic brands and bundle them together to form some sort of integrated businesses that are more client centric and not organized around analog media channels.

“I think airlines are going to have to think about what they need to do in a more limited demand for air travel. Certainly, I’d argue on a three to five year outlook where I think a lot of business travel, you know, may or may never come back. That has implications for the size and shape of airplanes. Boeing has announced that they are stopping making the 747,” Reed added.

He also argued that every industry has its own course to think through. “Sectors like luxury goods are really starting to think through that are they going to sell online? See, online sales has been a big barrier for luxury goods. Companies in this space believe that you need to have a face to face selling experience to really create the luxury experience. I would argue that the fact that they haven’t been able to sell really at all in the last three to four months, is going to put much more demand on them to think about what is an online luxury experience.”

Highlighting what the major businesses across the globe would be focusing on in these trying times, he said, “I think companies are going to have to start to think and invest more in technology. Interestingly, what we haven’t seen is companies cut back on big sort of transformation and technology transformation efforts.”

On the investment outlook of WP in India, he said: “WPP has cut its expenses in India by 5 percent in Q1. We are looking at average figures for at least three months with 50-60 percent cut in Q2, may be 30 percent in Q3 and a little less in Q4. Although these are not official figures these are based on a rough projection.”

Speaking on the anticipated changes in consumer behavior, Mark pointed out that priorities are bound to shift towards healthcare, physical fitness, business travel, remote working and family.

This, he said, will mean that businesses will have to develop consumer trust in brands as “trust” will play a major role in post pandemic world. This will require businesses to build social platforms based on freedom of speech.


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No Business as Usual for Film Industry

admin   July 13, 2020

COVID-19 has stunned film producers in India, who see the pandemic causing major disruptions in the way this unique industry functions. Here are some major challenges and remedial measures that can be taken to help the industry get back on its feet By Ravi Kottarakara

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused an irreparable damage to businesses and industries globally. Our film industry too finds itself into quite a predicament and the writing on the wall is absolutely clear. The Indian film industry has a peculiar ecosystem and its mode of functioning is entirely different from the normal industrial practices. In the past few years, the business in the Indian film industry has seen a lot of volatility—marked by lots of failures and a meager success rate of say 15%. Adding fuel to the fire, the COVID-19 pandemic has created so much havoc and pandemonium that it’s a difficult task to imagine recovery of the film industry anytime soon.

I have underlined some of issues of the film industry that need to be addressed before we resume business as usual:

PRODUCERS / PRODUCTION SECTOR

The film producers are stunned due to the several issues caused by the novel Corona virus and the lockdown that followed after its outbreak.

Released Films Losses

Some of the films that were released and screened at the cinema halls and were doing well in terms of box office collection have been abruptly stopped after the announcement of lockdown. This has caused irretrievable and permanent loss to the film producers and distributors [During the
lockdown there were around 80 to 90 films in different languages running in various cinema halls pan India]. The financial loss accrued due to abrupt closure of cinema halls during the lockdown is alone expected to amount to more than Rs. 400 crores.

Shooting Locations and Sets

Some film shootings had to be stopped suddenly in the aftermath of COVID-19 crisis that has caused huge losses to film producers. Adding to the injury, many gigantic sets erected by them for shooting are now wearing out [the shooting sets are temporary and made from perishable materials, so lifespan of these setsis very short]. Besides the uncertainty that looms over the commencementof film shootings, the Monsoon season will be another
factor leading to the total destruction of sets, thus creating irreversible losses to the producers as now they would have to erect new sets and structures again. The producers will also have to pay daily rent for the locations where these sets have been erected.It will be an additional cost to him.

Reorganizing and Rescheduling

To start the shooting process is another herculean task as the producers will have to now get new shooting dates from their respective artistes and technicians and reschedule the shooting. Adding to our woes, we are aware that some the artistes and technicians need to travel from different states for shootings. Some films have to be shot in outdoor locations like garden/
parks, bus stands, airports, roads, historical monuments, temples, and farmlands, etc, and shooting at many of these locations doesn’t seem a possibility in near future. Some of these films have to be shot in foreign locations and it looks like an impossible task to get permissions to shoot in those foreign locations in near future.

Unfortunate Loss of Lives & Displacement of workers

In this difficult time, we are experiencing another major issue. Unfortunately, some of our artistes and technicians have become victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and many are experiencing depression, tensions, mental ailments and other issues due to uncertainty in resuming shootings. Now all these film have to be reshot using new artists which would incur additional costs to the producer. Many of the daily wage/ contract and semiskilled workers have returned to their native states and it would be an uphill task to get them resume work.

Debts & Interest on finance

Meanwhile, one of the biggest issues we are facing is the interest accruing on loans after cancellation of shooting and delay in completing and recovering our investments from the projects. The interests to be paid to financiers are mounting by each passing day. Since films are not financed by banks as the film production is perceived as a high risk industry, film producers borrow money at a very high rate of interest of 30% to 48% per annum which is very exorbitant but there is no other option.

Release of films

Even if we complete with a film facing all these hurdles,another major stumbling block would be trying to release the film in these desperate times. The reasons are:

a) To think of a worldwide release looks like an impossibility at this time.We would lose money to be received from those territories/ markets.

b) The cine goers would think twice to watch films in theatres by taking
undue risk of contracting the virus.

c) In this volatile market the distributors would not come forward to buy films.

THEATRES / EXHIBITORS

Social Distancing at Theatres Social distancing will be maintained very strictly at theatres. Tickets will be sold for every alternate or every third seat to maintain a gap between two occupants.

Screening Sanitizing

Further, prior to every show, before entry each and every individual going in for the show will be individually screened for temperature and sanitized before allowed in the premises.

Issues of Screening Films

Post screening, cleansing and disinfection and sanitizing of theatre hall, individual seats, corridors, toilets, will also be done. This will eat into the total time available for shows. The number of shows will have to be reduced to a maximum of three instead of four shows as the lot of time will go into screening, cleaning/sanitization of halls. The time between each show will increase due to checking and sanitizing each individual.Also, the interval time will have to be increased to avoid congestion at food courts/
stalls, etc.

Reduced Footfalls

As there exists a fear of Corona in the minds of the public and the entertainment is available to them on digital mediums like satellite TV and OTT platforms, the need for the public to watch cinema at theatres must be encouraged. Since cinema is still the cheapest form of entertainment in India, we are hopeful that the public will revisit theatres and watch films on large screens coupled with quality sound systems.

Relief sought from the State Government

  • 50% reduction in property tax during lean period*
  • Flat 30% reduction in Electricity Tariffs/Bills for a limited period*[From rates of April 1st]
  • Local Body Entertainment Tax holiday for 5 years. [LBET]
  • No Ticket Price Capping and the unfettered Right to increase the ticket price by the exhibitors due a)restricted sale of 50% capacity of theatre.
  • All shooting Locations such as parks, roads, gardens, Bus stand, Beaches, etc should be given for shooting at Rs.1000/- per day only.
  • *Period is three years.
  • All Monuments, Temples, Archeological Sites, Railway stations, Dams, must be charge only Rs.5000/- per day[Indemnity Bond to be given by producer in case of any damages incurred]
  • Single window permission and clearances for shooting at any location within 72 hours.
  • TDS deduction on sale of copyright rights to Digital, OTT, Satellite, etc, to be reduced to 1%.
  • Instruct Banks to finance film producers/ distributors/ cinema hall at a concessional rate of interest. [the same Rate as for MSME sectors].
  • Central Subsidy of Rs 5 lakh only to be given to the film producer [whose name appears in Censor Board certificate] for every film released [minimum in 10 screens], irrespective of language and where the budget of the film is less than Rs 3 crores[based submissions to Income tax]. The amount to be paid within six months from the date of release of the film.
  • Reduction of GST from 18% to 12% and 12 % to 5% ( there are two slabs).
  • A service charge of Rs.30 at Non A/c Theatres, Rs.40 at A/c Theatres, Rs.50 at multiplexes could be added to every ticket purchased to recover the cost incurred for providing additional sanitization services at theatres and during Film Production [This is collectible by an additional coupon to be issued with every ticket]. The service charge money will be split three ways between the Exhibitor [where film is screened], producer [appears on the censor certificate] and the governments in the ration of 40:30:30 –exhibitor 40% ,producer 30% and government 30% [Central 15% & State 15%, respectively]
  • This service charge is to compensate the exhibitor/producer for the extra expenses/costs incurred on safety measures of sanitization procedures. These recommendations made by us is just to provide some sort of remedial help to the industry on a temporary basis, but in the long run we would only be able to ascertain the damage after the wrath of corona is over and the industry starts functioning.


Geoff Macnaughton is the New TIFF Director of Industry Programme

admin   July 23, 2019

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has announced Geoff Macnaughton as TIFF’s Director of Industry. Macnaughton will oversee the organization’s industry programming and talent development initiatives, as well as industry-related sales and services. He will continue to act as Lead Programmer of Primetime, the Toronto International Film Festival’s programme highlighting the best in international television series.

Macnaughton has been with the organization for 12 years, as a Senior Manager on both the Industry and Festival Programming teams. His balance of artistic vision and business acumen has allowed him to build strong and strategic relationships with partners, including distributors, sales agents, producers, and promotional agencies, both local and international.

“Geoff worked his way up on TIFF’s Industry team, winning the trust of buyers, sellers and creators as he helped grow our reach and impact every year,” said Cameron Bailey. “He brings a wealth of experience to his new position as Director of Industry, and recently adding Festival programming to his portfolio has expanded his expertise and network. We’re looking forward to delivering the very best in Industry services, sales and programming under Geoff’s new leadership.”

“I am extremely excited for this opportunity to help shape what TIFF offers to the local and international industry,” said Macnaughton. “The film and television landscape is constantly changing, and it’s important for us to be mindful of these developments in order to provide meaningful business, talent development, and networking opportunities for all.”