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Government aims to boost AVGC sector: Plans to enhance incentives and promote original IPs, says I&B secretary Apurva Chandra at CII

The government is considering raising the quantum of incentives offered under the Incentive Scheme for audio-visual co-production and shooting of foreign films in India as part of its effort to strengthen the growth of the animation, visual effects, gaming, and comics (AVGC) sector and its ecosystem, said Government of India Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) secretary Apurva Chandra at the inaugural of the CII Summit FX – 4th Global AVGC & Immersive Media Summit, in New Delhi, on 8 August.

The AVGC sector now accounts for about 20 per cent of the Indian media and entertainment landscape and is developing at a far quicker rate than the other components. However, it is vital for the sector to focus on developing unique intellectual property and promoting Indian talent on a global scale, and the government is dedicated to supporting these causes, according to the I&B secretary. He noted that the National AVGC Policy, which was created with participation from all of the industry’s key stakeholders, has already been presented for cabinet approval, and that the consultation process is underway to give it a final shape soon. Chandra stated that it was decided to go with a structure of 52 per cent private and 48 per cent government stake in the National Centre of Excellence for AVGC, which should operate as a catalyst to develop the sector and attract investments.

He also emphasised the importance of the AVGC sector having its own international festival, similar to the Annecy Festival, to establish international relationships, promote animation and VFX capabilities, and open up new doors for Indian animators, studios, and content creators. India is one of the few countries providing cash incentives to foreign companies for making AVGC content in India. This support extends to both pre and post-production activities in India. These incentives include a 30 per cent post-production spend incentive for content created using animation and visual effects with a cap of Rs 20 million. Productions employing 15 per cent or more of their labour force from India can access a further five per cent of spend, capped at Rs five million.

Government of India Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship secretary Atul Kumar Tiwari said that the AVGC task force has made a seminal contribution to the AVGC sector, which will soon come to fruition. He added that the government has made great inroads in terms of creating skilled talent in the AVGC sector with around 55 universities in India now offering courses in animation and 38 in VFX. The secretary said that India is focusing on developing future skills, and AVGC is an integral part of this strategy. Also, as part of the National Education Policy 2020, the government is making efforts to integrate AVGC into the school curriculum in order to identify and train talent from an early stage.

Asking the industry to create globally local content, Tiwari said that India has so much to offer to the world through its stories and we are moving in the right direction.

CII National AVGC Committee chairman, CII National Media & Entertainment Committee vice chairman and Technicolor India country head Biren Ghose said that though individuals and companies in the AVGC sector have won every single coveted award in the world to make us proud, the sector is undergoing a turbulent time with unprecedented levels of job losses owing to SAG- AFIRA and WGA strike in Hollywood, which has impacted the workflow. However, he encouraged the sector to face these challenges with the right strategy. He added that the AVGC sector has the potential to grow three times its current size in the next five years even if it continues to grow from the current rate.

Ghose said that the AVGC sector is experiencing a number of trends including the emergence of Generative AI, and the sector is coming out of its dependence on TV commercials. He advocated that the skill set required by the sector should be a blend of art and craftsmanship in order to move up in the value chain with Indian companies driving IP creation on a global scale.

The two-day AVGC SummitFx with the theme of ‘Create in India for the World’, is the flagship summit and leadership forum of the AVGC Industry and brings together AVGC stakeholders from the Indian government industry as well as Internationally renowned experts on one platform to navigate a successful growth path at a time when digital transformation, convergence of technology and artificial Intelligence are changing the rules of the game.

In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, CII established the networking platform of SummitFX to take advantage of the enormous potential of this industry. Since then, it has gathered the best brains in AVGC for a reality check that has been evaluated through the lenses of digital infrastructure, content creation (IPs), technology, exports, and skills and education.