Reliance Broadcast forms joint venture with CBS (Lead)

August 18th, 2010 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

KPMG Mumbai, Aug 18 (IANS) The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) forayed into television broadcasting Wednesday, setting up a joint venture with US media company CBS to launch general entertainment channels in South Asia.
ADAG firm Reliance Broadcast Network (RBN), known so far as Reliance Media World, formed a 50:50 joint venture, BIG CBS Networks Pvt. Ltd, with CBS Studios, a division of CBS, to beam channels to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Both parties, however, refused to divulge the financials involved.

“The venture is more about the assets that both companies are bringing to the table,” RBN Chief Executive Tarun Katial told reporters, announcing the formation of Big CBS.

Earlier in the day, in a regulatory filing Reliance Media World said: “Reliance Broadcast Network Limited has successfully completed its final negotiations with CBS Studios Inc, a division of CBS Corporation, and executed the joint venture agreement in connection with owning and operating, a portfolio of television channels.”

To start with, Big CBS will launch three channels– BIG CBS Spark, BIG CBS Love and BIG CBS Prime. The channels are expected to be beamed in the October-December quarter.

BIG CBS Spark will be targeted at the youth, while BIG CBS Love will be aimed at women. BIG CBS Prime will be a general entertainment channel, both companies said in a statement.

“The channels will be English entertainment channels, customized for the Indian market offering audiences immediate access to new and current CBS programmes, including some of the most popular television programmes in the world,” the statement added.

According to a recent KPMG and FICCI report, the media and entertainment industry is likely to grow at a rate of 12.5 percent annually, over the next five years and touch $20.09 billion by 2013.

Television was the largest segment of India’s entertainment industry, with revenues of 257 billion rupees ($5.6 billion) in 2009.

“It (India) is the third largest television market in the world, the largest Indian speaking population in the world, the economic power of the middle class, the youth demographic and many, many more statistics that all substantiate the tremendous opportunity in India,” said Armando Nuñez, president of CBS Studios International.

Katial said the venture will also get some CBS show formats and localise their content for the Indian audience.

BIG CBS will also look at setting up Hindi and regional language general entertainment channels in the next phase of expansion.

At the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Reliance Media World scrip closed near the day’s high of Rs.81.45, up 4.96 percent from its previous close at Rs.77.60.

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