UTV inks JV with Astro for TV channel

MUMBAI: UTV Software Communications Ltd has entered into an agreement with Malaysia’s Astro Multimedia International (BVI) Ltd (Astro) for establishing a television channel joint venture business in India, South Asia and South East Asia. The investment in this venture is estimated at upto Rs 2 billion (Rs 200 crores).


The scope of business of the joint venture company will be to create, develop, produce, own and operate one or more TV broadcast channels targeted at the age group of 15 to 25 in India, South Asia and South East Asia.


UTV Software Communications Ltd and Astro will hold 50 per cent each of the equity capital of the joint venture company.


UTV Broadcasting COO Zarina Mehta says, “As much as 23 per cent of the viewership of cable and satellite television comes from the youth space, which is currently very underserved by existing broadcast offerings. The Hungama TV experience has been enormously enriching and has reinforced our belief that innovative content, marketing and distribution are the key factors in determining success in Broadcasting. Our extensive learnings on Hungama TV will help us address the changing needs of the exciting 17-25 year target group. The UTV team is currently immersed in understanding the need gaps in this segment and working on innovative ways to address them.”


The new venture will operate across multiple platforms, including a television channel, gaming, mobile, licensing and merchandising, ground events and the Internet. The first television channel in Hindi is slated for launch in the second quarter of 2007, supported by a huge multimedia campaign and multi-city ground events.


UTV is currently conducting research on this target group as an input to its programming and marketing plans. The plans for the venture include the launch of multiple channels across languages in India and South East Asia. UTV had earlier entered into a business co-operation arrangement with Astro to set up kids channels in Malaysia and Indonesia, which launched on the Astro platform earlier this year.


Astro CEO Ralph Marshall says, “Our association with UTV goes back a long way. We recently launched Astro Ceria – our successful kids channels with them in Malaysia and Indonesia. The youth segment in India provides tremendous potential for creativity and expression and I believe UTV will make a natural partner for us given its proven track record in developing great content and marketing it successfully in a highly competitive environment.”


Disney acquisition of Hungama TV concluded and plans for future synergies unveiled


UTV’s latest foray into the broadcasting space, Hungama TV, was recently bought over by the Walt Disney Company.


UTV and Disney recently concluded the acquisition of Hungama TV with the final approval from the FIPB, followed by the subsequent inflow of Rs 1.40 billion (Rs 140 crores / $31.125 million) from Disney to UTV within a week. Disney has also invested Rs 670 million (Rs 67 crores / $14.5 million) towards a 14.9 per cent stake in UTV. This heralds the start of synergies in areas across television content production, movie production and broadcasting, between UTV and Disney. The two organizations have identified areas of common involvement, including the launch of niche channels, movie co-productions and television content creation by UTV for Disney channels.

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