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Star India looking at buying out minority stakeholders in Asianet

Star India is close to its goal of buying out minority stakeholders in a venture that controls its South Indian language channels. These include two Asianet general entertainment channels (GECs) in Malayalam and Star Vijay in Tamil. It is expected to acquire the remaining stake (of around 19%) from Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Asianet Communications Ltd.’s current MD K. Madhavan. Star India’s intention of buying out minority stakeholders in Asianet is in line with the company’s recent strategy of strengthening its hold on various ventures and exiting others.1

RBNL to launch Bhojpuri channel

Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. (RBNL) has launched a Bhojpuri channel, Big Magic Bihar and Jharkhand, in January 2013. The mother channel, Big Magic, is expected to air the Bhojpuri versions of several of its shows in the new channel, with fresh production to make these relevant to the region. The channel will be aired on local cable networks in Bihar and Jharkhand and will also be available on Reliance Digital TV.2

Another Telugu news channel to go on air

Andhra Pradesh-based Spoorthi Communications Private Limited is launching its 24-hour news channel, 10 TV, in Andhra Pradesh and as well as Karnataka and Orissa. It has appointed Arun Sagar, a veteran journalist, the CEO of the channel, which will be the 20th news channel in the state, competing with others including ETV Telugu, Sakshi TV, ABN Andhra Jyothi, Gemini News and TV5.3

Mathrubhumi to invest INR500 million in news and music channel

Mathrubhumi TV, the TV arm of the Mathrubhumi Group, is planning to invest INR500 million in a Malayalam news channel, Mathrubhumi News, and a multi-lingual music channel, Kappa TV. Mathrubhumi News was launched on 23 January 2013; Kappa TV went on air on 1 February 2013. Launching of the news channels will mark print major Mathrubhumi's entry into Kerala’s competitive TV news broadcasting space, which is dominated by Asianet Communications, Manorama News, Reporter TV and India Vision News.4

Consolidation in TV distribution business

India is witnessing consolidation in the TV channel distribution business. In the latest round, the TV18 Group and Disney UTV are floating a JV company to distribute their TV channels across India. IndiaCast, TV18 and Viacom18's JV will have 74% stake in the JV, while UGBL, a Disney UTV firm, will hold the remaining 26%. In another deal, MSM Discovery, the distribution JV between Multi Screen Media and Discovery Communications, has entered a multi-year distribution deal with Times Television Network to strengthen its TheOneAlliance bouquet.5

IMCL acquires third cable operator in Kolkata

IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. (IMCL) has made its third acquisition in Kolkata. It plans to expand its operations in the marketplace, where it sees significant demand from small-sized cable companies that are unable to fund digital set-top boxes. In 2012, IMCL acquired a 51% stake in two cable networks, Hooghly-based Advance Multisystem Broadband Communications and Skyvision.6

Dainik Bhaskar exits cable TV business

The Dainik Bhaskar Group has exited the cable TV business, selling its 49% stake to its JV partner Hathway Cable & Datacom. Hathway is now the complete owner of the JV, Hathway Bhaskar Multinet, which has cable TV distribution networks in Bhopal, Indore and Jaipur. Hathway is planning to fortify its presence in these three cities after completing its acquisition of Bhaskar Multinet.7

Ortel Communications files for INR1 billion IPO

Ortel Communications Ltd., Odisha's leading multi-system operator (MSO), is planning for an initial public offer (IPO). Ortel has filed a draft prospectus for an IPO to raise INR1 billion to fund development and expansion of cable TV, broadband and internet telephony services. The public offer also includes an offer for sale by NSR–PE Mauritius LLC, a PE fund, to sell half of its holding (35%) in the MSO. The multi system operator (MSO) and the PE fund are considering private placement of a stake of around 15% before the Red Herring prospectus is filed. If the private placement goes through, the MSO will reduce its offering in the IPO proportionately.8

Cable operators in Tamil Nadu to initiate MSO

Cable operators in Tamil Nadu have decided to launch their own MSO. They are planning to invest around INR400 million on this venture. The new MSO, Tamil Nadu Cable Communications, already has 500 operators and is expected to commence its services on 18 January 2013. The major reasons given by the operators for establishing this MSO is that they do not want their operations to fall into the hands of Arasu Cable, which is a monopoly, and also because of the confusion prevailing over implementation of digitization in Chennai.9

TRAI seeks views on carriage and placement fees, and carriage of minimum channels

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper, seeking comments from stakeholders on placement and carriage fees as well details of the minimum channel-carrying capacity to be set up by MSOs. These provisions in the Interconnection Regulations have been set aside by the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), based on petitions made by MSOs.10


1“Star India may buy out minority stakeholders in Asianet,” Livemint, 14 January 2013, via Factiva.

2“RBNL to launch Bhojpuri channel,” Indiantelevision, 14 January 2013, via Factiva.

3“Another Telugu news channel to go on air,” Exchange4media, 19 December 2012, via Factiva.

4“Mathrubhumi to invest INR500 million in news and music channel,” Indiantelevision, 21 January 2013, via Factiva.

5“Times Group channels hop on to OneAlliance bouquet,” Indiantelevision, 6 February 2013, via Factiva; “TV18's IndiaCast and Disney UTV form distribution JV,” Indiantelevision, 30 January 2013, via Factiva.

6“IMCL makes third acquision in Kolkata,” Indiantelevision, 14 February 2013, via Factiva.

7“Dainik Bhaskar exits cable biz, Hathway takes full ownership of JV,” Indiantelevision, 30 January 2013, via Factiva.

8“Ortel Communications files for INR1 billion IPO,” Indiantelevision, 31 January 2013, via Factiva.

9“Cable operators in TN to start MSO,” Business Standard, 11 January 2013, via Factiva.

10“Trai seeks views on carriage & placement fees and carriage of minimum channels,” Indiantelevision, 20 December 2012, via Factiva.