Reliance media world may form equal joint venture with CBS for small-screen debut

31 May 2010

Reliance Media World will form an equal joint venture with iconic American media company CBS Corporation to launch a potentially disruptive network of television channels under the brand BIG CBS, according to sources. The companies have reached an agreement on the JV and an announcement is expected to be made this week. There is no restriction on foreign investment in TV channels, except in news.

The joint venture will start operations from January next year and will launch a slew of channels, starting with those featuring syndicated content from CBS, which owns several hit shows such as NCIS, The Young and the Restless, CSI and America’s Top Model, as well as sitcoms such as Two and a Half Men. The JV will eventually enter the Hindi general entertainment space, which corners most of the television ad revenues. The company will launch movie channels as well as regional entertainment channels, but won’t enter the news space, further according to sources. Reliance Media World operates FM station BIG 92.7. On May 10, the company informed the stock exchanges that it has sought shareholder approval for a change of name to Reliance Broadcast Network to better reflect the upcoming changes in its business. It has also sought permission for an unspecified increase in authorised share capital, an issue of preference shares up to Rs 500 crore, a QIP issue of up to Rs 300 crore, and an issue of securities in the international markets up to Rs 300 crore.

For the year ended March 31, Reliance Media World reported a net loss of Rs 76.13 crore while total income was Rs 180 crore. Once the joint venture is finalised, Reliance Media World will continue to run the radio business and will have a 50% interest in the TV broadcast unit.

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