Studio 18 to be housed under Viacom JV

MUMBAI: Viacom Inc has inked a 50:50 joint venture with the TV18 Group for television, film and digital media content. The JV company will be called Viacom-18.

With this, TV 18’s motion pictures division operation – Studio 18 – will also come under Viacom-18. Studio 18 produces, acquires and distributes Hindi films. As part of the JV, the production, distribution, promotion branding, home video and music label will operationally get transferred to Viacom-18.

Viacom will also be the joint owner of The Indian Film Company, which is in the process of being listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. Additionally, Viacom’s motion picture brands Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks studios will explore opportunities for collaboration with Viacom-18.

The JV was announced by Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman and TV18 Group managing director Raghav Bahl in Mumbai on Tuesday (22 May).

As part of the agreement, Viacom-18 will launch a new Hindi general entertainment cable and satellite channel in India within the next year. It will include original, locally produced programming and acquisitions. Viacom’s MTV Networks will contribute the MTV, Vh1 and Nick India channels to the JV.

Viacom-18 will also launch a further suite of targeted channels in the future from the MTV Networks portfolio, as well as new brands, digital media content across all of the television brands will be developed and distributed to Indian consumers. The JV will also syndicate MTVN programming and newly produced content.

“India is one of Viacom’s priority markets for expansion internationally. This partnership will transform and significantly enlarge our business to offer audiences greater content diversity across platforms, and opportunities for advertisers to reach the full spectrum of demographics. The film operation for Viacom-18 will provide strong synergies with the TV and digital media business, as well as complement our Paramount and DreamWorks studios. We are delighted to enter into this partnership with TV18, the most forward-looking, entrepreneurial media Company in India,” said Dauman.

Bahl added, “Having established leadership in news broadcasting and consumer Internet business, the TV18 Group was poised to make an ambitious entry into the multi-platform entertainment space. We are delighted to do this in partnership with Viacom, easily among the most successful entertainment companies on our globe. We are confident that Viacom-18 will entertain India’s burgeoning film and television audiences. Viacom-18 will also propel the TV18 Group into the league of a truly diversified and broad-based media conglomerate.”

“The entertainment space offers significant opportunities and this partnership gives us the scale to compete and the edge to achieve leadership position. Viacom-18 will build and nurture communities across platforms much like TV18 has successfully done in the news space. We intend to exploit the compelling demographic synergies between our news channels and Viacom-18’s entertainment offerings,” said TV18 Group CEO Haresh Chawla.

The TV18 Group, subject to regulatory approvals, proposes to eventually house its investment in this joint venture through its general broadcast subsidiary – GBN.

Further announcements about Viacom-18, including management and content plans, will be made in the coining weeks. This transaction was supported by Ambit Corporate Finance Pte Ltd and BMR Advisors.

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