INDIA NEEDS A KIDS CONTENT ACT
This petition had 513 supporters
Television has been in India for the past 50 odd years. For the previous generation it was a friend. They saw it rise and they grew with it. For the current generation it’s been all about nostalgia and a lot about being their go-to element in times of need for entertainment. However, for the generation that’s still learning how to walk and talk, it’s a medium that will show them how the world they have been born in, functions. While the formal school education, home schooling & natural learning's can go on in the present form. It is critical in today's world to know what the present generation kids are exposed to, what content outside the formal structure are they consuming & how it is impacting their behavioral pattern.
Television is their cartoon friend who wishes them a good morning every day. It is their lunch time buddy who shows them what a superhero can do. It’s their snack time parent who will join them in their pranks. And it’s their bed time grandparent who will narrate stories and make them believe that the world is a beautiful place.
So what do we want our kids to learn from television & films?
We want them to learn everything we did, everything our parents and grandparents did, and everything that will help them grow as honest, truthful and virtuous youth of the nation.
And, this makes children programming for television an even more responsible job. It’s imperative that our kids grow up with the same values of patriotism and an equally culturally rich environment as we did. Creating sensible and responsible children programming in India is a social revolution of bringing back the sense pride for our country in every youngster across the nation. It is an effort to instill our roots in them so that we create socially responsible citizens, and the process starts when they are young.
To give you a deeper insight, the total number of kids’ channels in India is approximately 18 including regional languages. It represents around 3 percent of total available number of channels in India. Viewership share of kids’ genres is 7.3 per cent, much after Hindi GEC, News Channels and Hindi movies. What India really needs is an exclusive kid’s public broadcasting channel with a focus on animated content for kids.
The key players among kids’ channels in India with a focus on animated content for kids. A clear need for focusing on content creation with rich Indian stories, culture and heritage need a boost by enabling an environment to create such content in India.
How can we dream of building a strong nation when the content value systems of today’s Indian kids is being influenced by inadequate policy and funding? Even more so when we have entered the ever evolving digital content era.
What we lack
} A quota / reservation for locally created content
} Promotion of responsible programming, especially animated content
} Free access to kids’ content in cable dark areas
} Emphasis on entertainment with education and vice-versa
} Promotion of cross-fertilization of diversified Indian cultures
} Exposure for kids to our rich heritage of art, music, mythology and customs
} Increase awareness and tolerance to our cultural diversity
Till these voids are not filled, our kids may not be able to understand and appreciate the cultural diversity of India due to erosion of sense of belonging. It is utterly essential that we remain true in our journey of creating ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ with an even more serious approach to ensure the right development of our kids. It is good to have the youngest population but it is a greater responsibility to ensure that the nurturing of this population is also in the right direction. A good quality kids content thru public broadcasting will lay a firm foundation.
What we need
We need to have a strong action-oriented approach to solve a problem that has direct correlation with preserving our culture and traditions.
We need a "KIDS CONTENT ACT" in India that will address the existing gaps, formulate and enable strong policy driven measures to ameliorate television programming content for kids in India. Even revive the Children Film culture for Saturday and Sunday mornings. Also have digital gaming and digital content for kids in the present day context.
Our recommendations for the Kids Content Act
1. Mandatory locally produced animation content
In India, Animation, Gaming, VFX & Comics are the only industries where demand for manpower is more than supply. It is estimated that India has about 300 animation, 40 VFX and 85 game development studios employing thousands of techno-creative professionals. If the I&B Ministry can take measures and formulate policies in the right direction for kid’s content on television, theatrical , gaming, Comics and digital the kids in our country will get a healthy environment of education as well as entertainment. It can also meet Government’s objective of employment generation in the creative and artistic sector which has been neglected for a long time. It will also give a great boost to the studios and skills in India to retain work and creative jobs in India.
So to start with, we propose a 50% quota of mandatory local animation content on the networks with an aim to reach 70% over the next three years & a special protection for theaters and entertainment tax waiver for kids movies on weekends. This will help create a substantial library of Indian animated content that can travel globally and spread awareness about Indian culture and heritage.
2. Setting up of AVGC co-production fund under CFSI
Establishing strong libraries and restoring forms of art, culture and creative styles, will need immense support from I&B, more specifically, the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI).
Intellectual properties originating out of India can be co-produced / co-funded by CFSI for the next 10 years.This fund can be divided into 3 separate heads:
Intellectual properties originating out of India can be co-produced / co-funded by CFSI for the next 10 years with a fund of 110 crores each year. This fund can be divided into 3 separate heads:
} 100 crores as ‘Co-production fund’: To be awarded to not more or less than 20 to 30 projects, with minimum investment being 2 crores and maximum being 5 crores per project. CFSI can retain the world wide terrestrial free to air rights of the show against this investment in the projects.
} 5 crores as ‘Grant’:To be awarded to a total of 20 to 30 projects with investment of 10 to 25 lakhs per annum, for continuous and sustained development of stories and ideas.
} 5 crores as ‘Marketing budget’: To manage, administer, run events and distribute this content globally thru several international market. Also facilitate the international Co-production.
} The producer/ content creators retains the pay TV rights, L & M, Gaming and digital rights.
In this way India can then boast of over 300 co-productions and shows within India in the next 10 years. Kids TV and kids movies from India would emerge a true leader in the digital content economy generating jobs for over 4-5 lakh creative, techno-creative and artistic talent of the country.
The CFSI can recover this investment by keeping public broadcasting rights in India through Doordarshan and worldwide terrestrial rights of all these properties. CFSI can become the sole programming arm for kids content for public broadcasting free to air Doordarshan network in India. The producer/ content creators retains the pay TV rights, L & M, Gaming and digital rights.
3. Creation of DD Kids
We strongly believe Prasar Bharati can play a pivotal role in our endeavors of revolutionizing kids programming in India. What we demand is an exclusive kid’s channel for Doordarshan with a focus on animated & live content for kids.
The best way to do this is to start a DD Kids channel.
With its unmatched penetration in comparison to the cable & satellite channels, a digital terrestrial free to air public broadcasting DD Kids channel will surely position itself as a differentiator and forerunner. Quality kids’ programming will also generate more viewership and thus attract even more brands for advertisement. With its wide foot print & reach, the Doordarshan Kids Channel with the right kind of programming for kids will be able to lead the way and create a path for nation building just as other countries like US, Canada, China have public broadcasting services for nurturing kids and preparing them for future. Under the right to education thru television we can provide education as well as entertainment to the kids till the age of 12 till the last mile in India that to in all regional languages.
This is probably the only way to strengthen the kids content industry and bring about sustainability, stability and growth to the artist community and other stake holders in the industry. CFSI can operate on the similar lines and manage the fund and act as a de-facto producer of DD Kids contents partnering with the local producers. The programs produced should be translated into regional languages so that it could be aired on the regional channels of Doordarshan as well.
4. Signing co-production treaties
This will help Indian government to sign the co-production treaties with all the relevant countries interested in creating kids content in a big way. The Co-production treaties have become an important instrument for countries to access global markets and knowhow.
5. Creation of Creative Content Division
For India to be better poised to get into co-production treaties and many new age partnerships with all international stake holders, we need to create a stronger identity when it comes to producing quality content.
The Films Division under I&B Ministry, while playing its part, has the potential to operate on a much larger scale. We recommend that the Films Division be renamed as the Creative Content Division at the center and also at the state levels.
The Films, TV, Animation, Radio, Gaming, Comics, Online, Social Media & Mobile and all forms of content creation must be brought under this division. This will bring focus in these areas in terms of long term vision and effective policies that will enable the creative, social, cultural, heritage, entertainment and content industry of India to flourish in the right path.
Along with this, in the era of digital and social media boom, we must grab the opportunity to remodel, relook and give a facelift to the Films Division, empowering it with the new proposed identity by changing its institutional design & positioning. Majority of the countries in Asia Pacific have aligned their policies and initiatives to support the digital content creation industry while enforcing the ethos and safeguarding the cultural fabric of their countries thereby enabling a conducive environment of modality culture and technology.
We must grab the opportunity to remodel and relook into the creative content creation including films, gaming, comics, radio & other entertainment space and give a facelift to the Films Division, empowering it with the new proposed identity by changing its name & positioning.
The formation of Creative-Content- Division and establishing its working under the I & B ministry will be a landmark step in the India history and enable restoration and re-positioning effort of India ethos and values.
The Creative Content Division will help immensely to facilitate the kids content co-productions will all the foreign countries that India has signed the audio-visual co-production treaties. It will become the single point contact for overseas studios and Indian studios to create kids content using the co-production treaties.
6. CSR for Kids content
Creating sensible and responsible children programming in India is a social revolution of bringing back the pride for our country to every youngster across the nation. It is an effort to instill our roots in them so that we create socially responsible citizens, and the process starts when they are young. What can be a more “appropriate” reason to seek the enormous resource that Corporate India can provide through CSR towards supporting Kids Programming?
We need a legal initiative from Government to provide a legitimate platform that it deserves. An approval from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs towards classifying “Kids Programming” officially eligible for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding will provide the much needed stimulus in this endeavor.
7. Age group for TV Ratings
While we implement the above measures, we need to track our progress. Currently, the TV ratings available in India are only from the age of 4 years and above. We strongly believe that the ratings should start from the age of 2 years as the pre-school market in India is too huge to be ignored. In the absence of these ratings, we are losing the revenue and content attention at the extremely important pre-school level.
The Kids Content Act of India
We strongly believe that the future of this nation deserves to know every bit about this nation’s culture, heritage and values before it gets lost and eroded with time. Animated, gaming and comics content has a everlasting shelf life, one need to make an effort to create the right content, preserve and monetize the same for centuries to come. We need to preserve our roots and we need to shape our kids in a way that they become the exponents of India in the future – an India that is a land of rich and unique cultures, languages, music and history. The Kids Content Act for India will help save the cultural values but also impart right education and values to the upcoming generations- making them responsible global citizens.
We need to secure our future by securing our past.
And it’s only possible if we act now.
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