by Atiqa Odho
The Pakistani Production and Entertainment sector has been evolving into a big business hub over the past fifteen years. A lot of content has been developed and many talented people have been discovered and launched on and off our screens during this time. Strangely enough in all these years, we have never had a trade conference for this sector to strengthen communication amongst its stakeholders. A conference of this specific nature would help in developing and creating products faster, encourage stronger trade partnerships and facilitate producers in discoveringa bigger talent pool that needs such a platform to network through. There has been a great need for such an initiative as content distribution is rapidly expanding but the supply chain is not evolving fast enough to keep up with the growing demand.
This unfortunate communication gap, in an industry that bases its entire business on communication seemed unnatural to say the least. It may have been due to a lack of understanding of the tremendous potential our trade has to offer financial partners, such as private equity investors and bankers. Our developed software collateral has very good sales margins nationally, as well as very strong global syndication sales potential that would bring in much needed foreign exchange to Pakistan.
The products we as an industry create has a long-term value in the terms of intellectual property in the Urdu language, content production and repeat broadcasting for several years. There are large numbers of audiences all over the world that watch and follow Pakistani / Urdu content and the numbers are growing stronger with each passing year. These numbers should give investors an encouraging picture to get more proactive with the production of television and film software.
A few months back, the FPCCI established a production and entertainment committee of which I was made Chairperson. This was a first, as no such committee hadbeen established before on the Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry level. The timing seemed perfect as I was very keen to gather a team consisting of hard working, talented professionals from our community that would help mobilize a neutral unbiased platform from where the business of entertainment could come together to build stronger bridges.
For 2016, our committee members consisted of Fareshteh Aslam, Seema Jaffer, Faisal Kapadia, Misbah Khalid, Sohail Hashmi, Umnia Iftikhar, Erum Shahid, Khawar Azhar, Rashid Khawaja, Angeline Malik, Sarmad Khoosat, Daniyal Ahmed & Iram Parveen Bilal.
Once the committee was established, we decided to host the first national trade conference for our sector to emerge as a stronger business opportunity for others to start to look into as serious business.
So Hence, FocusPK16 was launched on 3rd and 4th December in Karachi under the aegis of FPCCI, as Pakistan’s first Production and Entertainment Conference showcasing the entire business of entertainment: Film, TV, Theater, Radio, Print and Digital.
FocusPK16 had a lineup of over a hundred and fifty prominent speakers for eighteen speaking sessions over the two-day event. Speakers came from all provinces and various sectors of production and entertainment that shared their valuable insight with fellow industry professionals as well as mainstream media to cultivate better business practices in general. This list of speakers shall evolve and grow annually as future events shall include national and international speakers.
We invited the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcast, Mariyum Aurengzeb, who was in attendance at FocusPK16 and brought her entire team with her from Islamabad, to meet and greet the private sector stake holders and listen to their concerns. The minister showed keen interest in facilitating the trade to help improve the environment for our industry. Taxation issues were discussed and the minister promised to look into relaxation and tax credit possibilities for anyone investing funds into this sector, which would help indigenous content development and create employment opportunities within Pakistan.
The Information Ministry, Pemra and all trade related associations such as PAS, PBA, UPA, APP, APNS, ACT, PFPA and many others endorsed FocusPK and supported it, as everyone felt it was a much needed initiative to bring stakeholders within media and entertainment together.
FocusPK is also aiming to bring schools and universities into its fold that are currently teaching mass media communications, film direction, theater and any other form of the performing arts or broadcast in their curriculum. This shall help our trade discover young, untapped talent and shall also help students find job opportunities when they graduate.
FocusPK shall continue to deliver tremendous knowledge, insight, access, value and a rare opportunity to hear from the industry’s global thought leaders, decision makers and experts as an annual trade conference, which shall help the local trade network constantly. It shall also encourage foreign partners to attend our national conference and discover content partnerships for global release.
The future objective is to engage international partners such as Disney, Eros, Star, Sony, Warner Brothers to name a few, just like they were encouraged to invest into the Indian entertainment industry. When these international giants came into India with heavy investment into the entertainment sector, the Indian industry got a boost to expand its distribution globally and earn foreign revenue from screens in many overseas markets.
Another important contribution the entertainment industry lends to Pakistan is in the form of (soft) image building of the country. This fact must be mentioned, as international (soft) image building is crucial today for us as a nation to improve our relationship around the world for other business sectors to thrive as well. Many of our films are currently being shot in beautiful locations, such as Swat, Baltistan, and Bhawalpur, which shall also help in the uplift of our tourism sector. Hence, it is important for private public partnerships to grow and facilitate such activities on a national scale.
This year we honored two giants of our Industry, Mr. Ghazanfar Ali and Mr. Anwar Maqsood. This tradition shall continue each year, as it is important to recognize our Icons of Industry and pay, well deserved tribute to them.
FocusPK16 was fortunate that multinationals such as Unilever Pakistan, GSK, Roots R US, Urdu1, TVOne all realized the potential as well for such an initiative and gave their complete support in hosting this first of its kind trade event. The cooperate sector is deeply imbedded with entertainment in the form of brand placement and advertising and now has this conference as another platform to support the arts through.
For all those that are interested in the business of entertainment and would like to support our efforts by becoming a community member, please look up www.focuspk.net. The official website has a lot of print press coverage and speaking sessions video collateral from FocusPK16 being posted up for viewing. All future plans are going to be announced on the site as well for trade professionals to get involved in whatever capacity they are interested in.
It is time to take the Business of Entertainment seriously and all stakeholders are welcome to contribute in whatever capacity they feel they are able to support FocusPK in the coming years.