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Converging towards making Malaysia a digital hub

KUALA LUMPUR: When KL Converge 2014 rolls in from Wednesday, the three-day multi-platform creative industry conference will explore ways to position Malaysia as a top digital media and communications hub in this region.
 

It appears to be a tall order but to Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, it is also about building an ecosystem for the local content industry to maximise its real potential in the global market.


This is primarily because he feels that there is a strong need to increase focus beyond Malaysia’s shores to capture a share of the global market estimated to have a revenue of almost US$160 billion annually.
 

KL Converge 2014 is the brainchild of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry to further develop a more dynamic market environment under the country’s Economic Transformation Programme to lay the foundation towards the development of a high-income nation in the years to come.
 

It is also to fully tap into the diversity of talents and culture in the country’s multi-ethnic make-up. For Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), KL Converge is the first step in a journey of 100 steps.

 

KL Converge is based on the concept of the convergence of communications, broadcasting, digital technology and creative content like films, animation, music and drama.
 

In this respect, the organisers have invited several leading lights in the industry to present and share their thoughts and experiences, and to enable the 20,000 or so participants from around the region to explore potential areas for cooperation and leapfrog their businesses.


According to Ahmad Shabery, the export of creative content by Malaysia was expected to reach about RM600 million this year from RM565 million in 2013 and from just RM200 million in 2010.


But to him, this is just the tip of the iceberg if one were to compare the total global revenue in this lucrative sector alone.

Following the Film in Malaysia Incentive (FIMI) introduced in 2013, the total Qualified Malaysian Production Expenditure for films amounted to almost RM150 million from a mere RM20 million in 2011.

FIMI provides a 30 per cent cash rebate from the government for film production in Malaysia.

This incentive is to encourage more production works in Malaysia to raise the level of skill sets to be of international standard as part of efforts to enhance the country’s creative industry, according to the National Film Development Corporation or Finas.
 

The government’s direction in this area will not only promote the creation of quality creative content but also make Malaysia a preferred destination and film production hub. This incentive has already brought some quick successes.
 

Local productions or done with local collaboration such as ‘The Journey’ have grossed RM17 million in local sales alone while animation works such as ‘War of the Worlds: Goliath’ and ‘Ribbit’ have won awards like the Best 3D Animated Feature Film at the Los Angeles 3D Film Festival and ‘Best Family Film’ at the Niagara (Canada) Integrated Film Festival.
 

But KL Converge is not about films alone.
 

There are sessions on gaming, apps development, cooperation between broadcasters, marketing of music through the use of technology, use of analytics by retail sector, story telling, how to sell or pitch a documentary, wearable gadgets for medical purposes, and developing business partnerships.
 

All in all, it is about the convergence of ideas and experiences to help the local communications content and infrastructure industry, as envisaged as one of the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) to contribute RM33 billion or more to the gross national income (GNI) for 2014 from RM30.4 billion in 2013 and lay one of the avenues towards achieving a high-income economy.


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