Embracing Non-Linearity: Esya Centre’s report on the future of entertainment in India

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The Esya Centre, a think-tank that researches issues that lie at the intersection of technology and policy, has published a report titled, ‘Embracing Non- Linearity:  The  Future  of  India’s  Entertainment  Industry,’  that  analyses  the  impact  of technology on storytelling, and the role of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in transforming how stories are told.

It also looks at market and policy hurdles that India needs to overcome, to become a global entertainment hub. The report is authored by Shekhar Kapur, a renowned filmmaker and President of the Film and Television Institute of India; Vani Tripathi Tikoo, member of the Central Board of Film Certification, actor and producer; Akshat Agarwal, a lawyer; and Vivan Sharan, Advisor, Esya Centre.

The report suggests that the media and entertainment industry is at the cusp of a technological transformation – from a linear format of storytelling and traditional mediums like the printed word, film, and television, towards a more dynamic and non-linear mode via internet-based platforms.

And for India to capitalize on this technological transformation and become a global leader in media and entertainment, it needs to take three important steps.

First, to allow creative expression to flourish, through focus on development of industry-led standards.

Second, to boost local capacity to manufacture hardware like gaming consoles, which are increasingly bundled with content.

Third and finally, to implement a principles- based regulatory framework to create a level-playing field across all rungs of the entertainment value chain.

The report illustrates how India can take a cue from other countries that have taken steps in some of these areas by examining best practices such as the voluntary film rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America, which was introduced in 1968.

This voluntary system classifies films based on themes such as violence, substances, nudity or sex and has evolved over more than half a decade of its existence. Similarly, the report looks at more recent policy developments around the world, such as Canada’s 2019 Digital Charter.

This Charter seeks to update  and  modernize  Canadian  laws  dealing  with  the  digital ecosystem  while  creating  a principles-based framework. These and other global experiences have been examined, along with  trends  within  the media  and  entertainment industry  and  offers  a  new  perspective  on India’s future potential in this sector.

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