Local content and sustainable growth

6 Dec 2016 12:15h - 13:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

The session was coordinated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), represented by Mr Paolo Lanteri, Legal Officer, and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), represented by Mr Bertrand Moullier, Senior Advisor International Affairs.

In his opening remarks, Lanteri stated how local content has been a popular topic within the IGF in recent years. He added that a number of activities have been organised around this topic, including a specific best practices forum on creating an enabling environment for the development of content.

Lanteri mentioned that the session would not reopen the debate or try to redefine local content, as has been the case in the past. The discussion focused on trying to understand and recognise the complexities of the local content, and what can be encompassed by a wide definition. Aspects that were looked at included high quality of content, individual creations that are local in terms of mark, place, and production.

He pointed to the fact that the vast majority or an important share of the local content on the Internet is, in fact, noncommercial in nature, and it is therefore important to provide the right infrastructure, guaranteeing easy and speedy access to that content, to the widest number of individuals around the globe.

To ensure geographical balance, speakers were selected from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Moullier stated that FIAPF partnering with WIPO to deliver this workshop is historic since it is the first time the IGF will hear directly the perspectives of working film producers and TV producers and content producers, in terms of how they want to insert themselves in the global narrative of the Internet, socially, economically, and culturally.

He emphasised the importance of discussing about the profession of the film content industry, as people make a living out of a creative endeavor. He added that, the industry ought to survive and thrive to create jobs and harbinger of innovation, thereby contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP), growth, and culture. Moullier pointed to the need to ensure the creation of both legal and economic infrastructure to support locally relevant content. He recommended the following:

  1. A stable legal framework to include communications and copyright law, and incentives to protect and encourage local content creation to reflect local culture.
  2. The transition between legacy media to partnering with Internet players.
  3. Ms Cristina Gallego, film producer from Colombia, shared her country’s experiences on how independent film makers make their films. She noted that, in Colombia, due to the Act on Cinema enacted in 2014, about 70% of 350 films have been produced. Also, governments support as well as private and public investments have contributed to establishing agreements with America and Europe, so that films can be nationalised and viewed in different countries. Gallego pointed to the fact that the change in distribution via digital platforms, with endless lists of music accessible by means of affordable fees, has generated much income for the music industry. She acknowledged the fact that people need to have access to culture, but this is not feasible if the ecosystem is not economically viable. As independent film makers

do not have big studios, are not part of the distribution channel, and do not have other line of business, the legal framework ought to be respected, allowing them to get a revenue for their work.

  1. Gallego also noted that local audience responded to local films remarkably well, which seems to demonstrate that there is an underlying demand for local content.

Mr Manuel Guerra Zamarro of Alvoto, Director General at the Copyright Office of Mexico mentioned that the cultural sector employs more than one million people, and internationally, Mexico falls within the rank of fourth to tenth in terms of cultural resources, video games, creative words, film making, etc. He attributed the success in the creative acts industry to the enormous support from different government initiatives, which have generated fiscal stimuli and trusts, resulting in a high level of economic activity.

Ms Nicole Armarteifio, a Ghanaian based in New York, spoke about how she has bypassed the traditional broadcasters and went directly to put her first movie series on the Internet, using YouTube, with the aim of helping give life and visibility to African cities. This earned her more viewers as well as saved her more money than she could have done with the traditional broadcasters. She was also able to portray the good and positive things about her country. It took Nicole years of saving to be able to pre-license and to shoot her movies.

Armarteifio mentioned has challenges with the website that hosts her contents, as it requires one to have a bank account in the West. Her wish is to meet an African technologist that can create a similar online platform, so that she can use a monetised account in Africa.

Mr Bobby Bedi, a member of the Bollywood guild of film producers and part of the board of the Film Festival of India,explained that producers in India used to believe that the television would kill cinemas, they would not be paid well, and subsequently harm the production sector. But with time, the market grew, and the cinemas became multiplexes, as TV shows created new content opportunities. He believes that the industry has changed the way content is delivered, and as new content is produced, this has changed the way content is consumed.

Bedi acknowledged that the Internet has enabled social media to empower billions of people to generate their own contents, share and popularise it. He added that India generates over 1, 050, 000 of movies in local languages (more than English) and shows on local TVs. He concluded that, asthe Internet is not local but global, local content will be sustainable only if it connects to the local consumers and where they live (i.e. local is geographic).

Mr Gerardo Munoz de Cote, Televisa Group, Mexico started his intervention by mentioning that the correct infrastructure need to be in place so that the countries can obtain access to online content more efficiently. He spoke about the lack of local supply of content in many countries, and mentioned that only 30% of Internet traffic in Latin America is directed to websites that are local and in local languages, whilst 70% is directed to international websites. He noted that the main issues are not about language, but rather about production, content creation, and very importantly, the relevance of the content.

  1. Munoz de Cote also said that new trends in the digital world are evolving. Whilecontent is in Spanish, which is relevant to the local people, this content needs to be made accessible globally.

The following other key points were made during the discussions:

  1. Countries ought to develop favorable and dynamic regulations that will protect local content.
  2. The Internet plays a fundamental role in the production and distribution of content.
  3. To ensure property and authorship rights, and deliver quality content to viewers and listeners, proper partnerships should be encouraged between producing companies (that invest large sums of money so that productions can be carried out) and authors and composers of music, screenwriters, directors, producers, executive artists.
  4. Africans should be encouraged to produce movies in their local languages other than their formal languages (English and French). It was suggested that, as far as the content or storyline is good, movies could be produced in local languages whilst subtitles in foreign languages can be provided.

by Ivy Hoetu, Internet Society Ghana