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Viacom awaits FIPBclearance to pick up 50%stake in 5 ETV regionalGECs


28 Sep 2013
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MUMBAI: Though TV18 has got a new owner
in Mukesh Ambani, there has been no
change in the original plan of Viacom Inc:
The US media conglomerate is awaiting
regulatory clearance to acquire 50 per cent
stake in five regional general entertainment
channels of ETV from TV18.

Once Viacom gets necessary approvals, the
five channels—ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada,
ETV Bangla, ETV Gujarati and ETV Odia,
which are part of Prism TV Pvt Ltd, now a
wholly-owned subsidiary of TV18—will be
merged with Viacom18 Media, the 50:50 joint
venture between TV18 and Viacom Inc.
As Viacom is in the process of acquiring the
stake, sources close to the development
say that the channels may be rebranded
with Colors.

For the records, Viacom18 houses the
entertainment channels of the group,
including flagship Hindi GEC Colors, youth
channels MTV and Pepsi MTV Indies, English
channels Vh1 and Comedy Central, and kids
channels Nick, Nick Jr and Sonic. It also
runs Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the film
production business of the group. On the
contrary, the news properties—CNN-IBN,
IBN7, CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC
Bazaar—are part of TV8.

In 2012 when Network18 and TV18 were
under the ownership of Raghav Bahl, TV18
had entered into an agreement to acquire a
50 per cent stake in the regional
entertainment channels of ETV. It also had
the option of picking up the balance 50 per
cent interest.

Later in 2013, TV18 had offered Viacom Inc
the option to pick up the remaining 50 per
cent stake in the regional GECs. This could
have allowed the two companies to keep all
the entertainment channels under one JV
while expanding the partnership.

It would be pertinent to note that during his
last appearance at the FICCI Frames in
2013, Viacom International Media Network
president and CEO Robert (Bob) M Bakish
had told journalists that Viacom was doing
due diligence to acquire the remaining 50
per cent stake in ETV regional channels. He
had mentioned that the addition of regional
channels would be a good strategic
opportunity for the business as regional
markets have strong growth potential.

As it is, there are proposals pending before
the Foreign Investment Promotion Board
from Nickelodeon Asia Holdings Pte Ltd,
Singapore and Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd.

Viacom awaits FIPB clearance to pick up 50% stake in 5 ETV regional GECs | TelevisionPost.com
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