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Government must get out of business: Amit Khanna

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Amit Khanna

New Delhi, Dec 13 : What is striking about Amit Khanna is not just the fact that he has been part of the entire media spectrum — television, films, radio, print, studio head, besides being part of policy making, but that he refuses to wear any stars on the shoulders.

“For me, it has always been important to explore newer challenges,” smiles the lyricist, producer, filmmaker, poet and former Chairman of Reliance Entertainment.

As his second book “Words Sounds Images: A History of Media and Entertainment in India”, an encyclopedic study of the history of Indian media and entertainment, published by HarperCollins gets released today, he tells IANS: “We’re aware that India has an ancient tradition of music and dance, theatre; later print, radio and television, and now digital — so the book covers everything.”

Khanna, who has been consistently writing on the Indian media and entertainment scenario for decades now, says the idea of writing this book emerged after he started interacting with students and young professionals. “I realised there was no one book which could be accessed to give an overview of Indian media and entertainment.”

A keen observer of culture, society and contemporary trends, the media veteran who also mentors several youngsters now plans to travel and spend time teaching. “It is always interesting to interact with young professionals.”

For someone who has donned multiple hats in the media segment and has done several things simultaneously, it is giving inputs to policy that is on top of his priority list now. “Somebody has to engage with and deal with what is going to happen in various media in the years to come, and how others respond to it — whether it is the government or other stake holders. For me, exploring new frontiers is always interesting.

“Today, we exist in a networked society. It’s the first time in human history that four to five billion people are connected. This is an interesting age to be in and at this stage of my career, I want to observe, analyze, various media in terms of social and cultural change, and how do we use future as a friend. Yes, it is therefore a very fulfilling kind of engagement,” he adds.

Khanna, who has always stressed that government should focus just on making broader policies but stay completely away from businesses, insists that it holds true not just for media and entertainment but other industries too.

“All successive governments have said that government has no business to be in business, but it is very difficult for them to give up control. Of course, now things are less restrictive than they were 30 years ago. Unfortunately, in a democracy, where electoral politics is a major policy motivator, most politicians tend to be populist rather than commonsensical, something the country needs desperately.”

No conversation with a media expert can be complete without mentioning OTT. He says, “Let’s not forget it’s merely a platform. There are a few points in this value chain. It’s the creator and access. How does the consumer access that content? So, platform, after a point becomes irrelevant. You have to be platform agnostic. How does it matter where I am accessing the content I want to see or listen to, from? I really shouldn’t care if it coming to me through the sky, broadcast TV, direct to home, broadband or mobile Internet, right?

“We are in the phase where we are still concerned with platforms. I thought, over a passage of time, we would get under regulated, but sadly, we are getting over regulated. It’s a global phenomenon though in India, it’s more accentuated.”

Talk to him about the fact how many news outlets are recording an all-time low profit and shutting shop, and he asserts, “It’s do with the number of them. This country has more than 800 news channels. Things are way too fragmented. Let us also not forget that in India, the per capita spend on entertainment is the lowest among all large emerging economies.

“If you’re spending an hour on the phone now, that much time has been reduced from the activities you were participating in before, right? These channels will have to shut down. Some local channels and specialized digital platforms, which are a democratic medium and cost much less in terms of investment, will see a rise. Of course, one also needs to see what is their business model for sustenance and growth?”

Khanna, who set up PLUS Channel in 1989, India’s first integrated media and entertainment company that produced three hours of programming everyday for Doordarshan feels it is high time that the state broadcaster gets it act together.

“I was the Executive Producer of ‘Buniyad’ and producer for ‘Swaabhimaan’. Now, when you look at Doordarshan, it’s apparent that the standards and practices of state broadcasting in India are way behind. It is important for the government to realise the peculiar role of a public broadcaster in a pluralistic country like India, which boasts of several languages and cultures.

“Yes, we do need a public broadcaster, but it does not have to do what every private broadcaster is doing. I mean why should every cricket match should be shown on Doordarshan? That’s a stupid regulation. They just need to stick to good quality commissioned programming.

“Professionals need to be brought in immediately and given a free hand. Failing this, it will go the same road as BSNL, MTNL and Air India.”

Insisting that it paramount to invest on manpower training and development in media and other sectors, the media veteran, who has been on the governing council of FTII (Film and Television Institute of India), Pune and SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute), Kolkata besides the board of MCRC (Mass Communication Research Centre), Jamia Millia Islamia, points, “When I was on their boards, I would constantly tell them to update their teaching methods which were decades old. We have to have excellent facility. Inviting guest faculty is a good short-term solution, but the need of the hour is to get trainers from abroad to teach the instructors and teachers on the latest breakthroughs in their subjects.”

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Vodafone Idea should either recapitalize or go to IBC: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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Vodafone, Idea

New Delhi, Feb 15 : Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Saturday that Vodafone Idea should either recapitalize or follow the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (INC).

“The solution is straight forward — Vodafone-Idea either recapitalizes or follows Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code resolution with creditors and looks for new investors like other bankruptcies, Chandrashekhar said while commenting on the Supreme Court hearing on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of telecom operators.

“After Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code law has been implemented by the Modi government, the only path for companies and creditors is resolution/insolvency,” said Chandrasekhar who is also a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee which is looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on both telecom companies and the telecom department (DoT) over non-payment of AGR dues amounting to Rs 1.47 lakh crore.

Commenting on the SC ruling, former telecom entrepreneur and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “I agree telecom sector has made things difficult…But a solution has to be proper and not knee-jerk.”

Commenting on Vodafone Idea , Rajeev Chandrasekhar said: “Vodafone Idea is very valuable company — with assets, spectrum, and customers. Creditors must be pro-active and ensure it is a going concern, and then look at promoter’s interests. Vodafone Idea if referred to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code can be solved with minimum prejudice to creditors”.

“Telcos have very little basis to argue against AGR ruling. It is a decades old and substantive dispute that they have kept kicking down the road. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, there is no way of avoiding it,” he said.

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Galaxy S20 consumes 600MB per minute while recording 8K videos

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Samsung Galaxy S20

San Francisco, Feb 15: South Korean tech giant Samsung has revealed that recording 8K footages on the recently launched Galaxy S20 smartphone would occupy about a considerable 600MB per minute.

According to the company a five-minute-long recorded video in 8K would consume nearly 3GB of the onboard storage space, The Verge reported recently.

The smartphone is available with up to 512GB of internal memory and supports up to 1TB microSD cards, a maximum total combined storage of 1.5TB.

Additionally, as per report, the maximum recording time is restricted to just five minutes and videos can be recorded at only 24fps (frames per second), which means, one can not shoot at higher rates such as 30fps or 60fps.

For comparison, a Galaxy S10 Plus recording 4K video consumes a maximum of 350MB/s per minute.

S20 and S20+ have a triple camera system at the rear with main 64MP camera and a 10MP selfie shooter while S20 Ultra has main 108MP camera and 40MP front camera.

The S20 Ultra takes things a step further with the option to shift dynamically between a high resolution 108MP mode and a 12MP mode, thanks to “nona-binning” technology which combines nine pixels into one at the sensor level.

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Alleged Google Pixel 5 XL image leaks with unique camera setup

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Google Pixel 5 XL

San Francisco, Feb 15: It may have been just a few months since Google launched its Pixel 4 smartphones, but a new image has leaked that shows the purported Pixel 5 XL with a unique-looking design language.

The phone is reported to keep the same texture finished on both the frames and the rear glass, both matte/soft touch. It would be a good idea to go with such a design since Apple and Samsung (Google’s biggest competitors) have square/rectangular camera setups, GSMArena reported on Saturday quoting Front Page Tech.

However, the leaked image is one of three prototype renders, thus, meaning that the render we are seeing may not see the light of the day as the Google Pixel 5 smartphone.

The YouTuber showed the back of the Pixel 5 in his leak.

It looks monstrous, yes, but it ultimately won’t matter what Google does with the camera module as long as the Pixel 5 takes better photos than ever, according to BGR.

Earlier in October, Google announced the newly-launched Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones will not be available in India.

In a statement, the company said it has decided not to make Pixel 4 duo available in the country.

The Google Pixel 4 has a radar sensor, dubbed Project Soli during development, and now called Motion Sense.

This allows the smartphone to support air gestures – so you can wave your hands at your phone to execute certain actions. This works on 60GHz spectrum and that was said to be the reason why the company didn’t launch the phones in India.

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