James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation for Europe and Asia gave the keynote speech at the inaugural function of FICCI-Frames 2011 held in Mumbai on March 24. Murdoch said that the impressive achievements of the country, in the last two decades, have not even begun to fulfil the potential and that one can only imagine what the way forward will be. He believes that India’s creative force is still a sleeping tiger waiting to be awakened. This is what he said at the event:
“I first came to India long before I had any thoughts of working here. I was a recent college drop- out, and mostly interested in skiing the Indian Himalayas. At the time, I had no inkling of the difference the time I would spend here would make in my life.
Millions still come to India the way I first did – to savour the richness of the culture, the excitement of Indian society, and the depth and marvel of its past. But these days India has a new breed of visitor. These are the people who come to see the future. And it is this future that I am delighted to speak about today.
I know I speak for all my colleagues at Star and Sky and News Corporation when I say we are excited about the opportunity to make our own contributions to a confident and global India. We count ourselves fortunate to work with those who, by any definition, rank among the worlds’ most talented.
On that first visit to Himachal Pradesh, I had no idea that just a few years later I would be back here sitting in a conference room in Andheri looking at new billboard art for a new game show called Kaun Banega Crorepati; and discussing the introduction of a new line of soap operas, prime time serials -- that mysteriously all started with a "K".
At Star in 1999 and 2000, we made a choice to triple down here, in a marketplace we were sure had the potential to change all of our lives.
Not that it’s been an easy ride. We have had fierce competitors in the past and we have them today, and I anticipate even more in the future.
I hope we have met them in the marketplace fairly – and a little fiercely too. To our rivals as well as our partners, I have only admiration for your work. And I believe that we are together at a time and place in history that offers us the chance to raise up something that the Indian people have not yet seen: a media sector that will be the envy of the world – and all the benefits that flow from that.
The Frames convention is at the center of this narrative. For those of us in this business of ideas, it has become a fixture on our landscape. Whether we are in media and entertainment, news and current affairs, or even technology, this is the place to be. We come here to share our notes on the most compelling areas of human endeavor. So before I continue, I’d like to ask you to join me in showing Harsh and his team our appreciation for their hard work.
Look at almost any field of human knowledge today and you will find Indians making contributions on a global scale. From mega-corporations straddling the world, to chemists developing life-saving drugs, to universities turning out engineers and scientists, India has established itself as a commercial, political, and economic heavyweight. This status will only be enhanced.
Behind India’s phenomenal rise is the unleashing of her human talent. This is the creative force behind her impressive economic figures. It is the energy that makes possible achievements once thought unthinkable. And it is the greatest of renewable resources, because it is rooted in the unlimited capacities of the free human mind.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is India’s moment of greatest opportunity – and this is the subject of my talk today.
The impressive achievements of the last two decades have not even begun to fulfil the potential of this great land. I believe that India’s creative force is a still sleeping tiger waiting to be awakened. And I suggest that the way forward begins with imagination.
When I say imagination, I’m not talking about pie in the sky. I’m thinking about the possibilities in a real and tangible way.
So let’s start with something very simple and concrete.
• Begin by asking yourself how enormous India’s creative sector would be if it were simply proportional to its size in other economies. If India’s economy had a creative sector on the scale, relative to overall GDP, of Britain’s, for example, instead of a $15 billion industry we would be talking about a $120 billion industry.
• Next, ask yourself how many millions of jobs a creative sector that size would produce each year for Indian people.
• Finally, ask yourself how wide the reach such an industry would have – how it might help revolutionise such sectors as education and health care at home, while ensuring that India has a voice commensurate with her importance in global affairs.
We all know that, even at rest, tigers are impressive – and the other animals are careful to give them respect. Yet only when a tiger is awake and engaged can we appreciate its force and majesty. That is our challenge with India’s creative sector: to imagine what this slumbering tiger might do in the right environment.
What might such an environment look like? It would be one that puts a premium on creativity. An economy that encourages people to take risks in order to bring new and better products to market – and rewards them when they are successful. And an infrastructure that takes advantage of the best that modern technology has to offer – and ensures that Indians can compete with anyone, anywhere, any time.
To do this, we must turn our attention to two broad areas. infrastructure.
Digitisation is the key to unlocking the potential of the creative sector. With digitisation, the Indian industry will finally have the incentives to invest and create. Even more important, Indian customers will have the content and choice worthy of their nation’s rich diversity.
The second area is what we can do to bring Indian creators, storytellers, and journalists to the world’s conversations. And this can only be done by ensuring that India’s creative market is competitive at home.
Let me start with digital. Today, India has roughly 250 million homes. Of these, about 120 million have some form of multichannel television. Only 30 million of those are digital.
Why is this a problem? The answer is that digital is not simply another competing technology.
To the contrary, digitisation brings content distribution and connectivity together – and helps them come alive. That is why the nation’s most determined to modernise their economies have put digital infrastructure at the top of their priorities."