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BW Businessworld

Media And Technology

Media mavericks turn to tech as they chart a unique growth course for the sector and the Indian economy

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In november 2020, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced that digital audio-visual content, including films and web shows on over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms and news and current affairs on online platforms, would be brought within its purview. The decision evoked a mixed response. Some welcomed the regulation, while others questioned the government intervention, saying it interfered with creative expression.

The dust was settling on the issue, when in February 2021 came the Information Technology (intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code) Rules 2021. The rules provide for an institutional mechanism and a three-tier grievance redressal framework for news publishers and OTT platforms in digital media. One could argue that these steps were predictable going by the tremendous growth of digital media and in the light of the fact that the medium is both the present and the future of India. Other initiatives, like increasing the FDI in the sector from 74 per cent to 100 per cent and the setting up of the National Centre of Excellence for animation, gaming, visual effects and the comics industry in Mumbai, emphasise the importance the government assigns to digital media.

 And here is my take. While this is about the growth in digital, facts have proved that ‘digital’ has become too broad a term from what it once was. Specific attention needs to be placed on some of its aspects, which are now becoming industries in their own right. All the government initiatives simply underscore the tremendous promise the sector holds for the country. Media is the only vehicle that truly and directly reaches consumers. It is a pull medium. Compelling content, engagement and overall entertainment attract people, demanding their time and attention. These attributes in turn provide an opportunity to large companies, institutions, the government, etc. to address consumers and engage with them through messages and calls to action. Media, hence, is the original direct-to-consumer (D2C) interface. What the rise of mediatech has done is to keep this unique proposition firmly ensconced within media companies. Mediatech is a wave pushed forth by startups and young entrepreneurs with the ambition to take homegrown media and social media platforms around India and beyond.

Right now, they are doing a good job, perhaps because there clearly is a space for it. This industry attracts optimism. That being said, mediatech is not limited to startups but is also being embraced by traditional media companies that now prefer to call themselves content brands instead of broadcast or newspaper and the likes. The move is in the right direction. In this special edition, we focus on the fast-growing mediatech subsector, look closely at how technology is disrupting some other sectors and the role that leadership plays in moving the baton forward. This issue also has a comprehensive report on the festive season in India, when some sectors shine and thrive, while others still struggle to grow.