Viacom to launch Hindi channel in JV with TV18

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New Delhi, May 22: US-based media conglomerate Viacom Inc and broadcast major TV18 Group today announced the creation of a new 50:50 joint venture christened Viacom-18.

Viacom-18 will launch a Hindi-language general entertainment cable and satellite channel in India within the next year, a joint statement said.

It will include original, locally produced programming and acquisitions. MTV Networks (MTVN), a unit of Viacom, will contribute its local networks, MTV, Vh1 and Nickelodeon India, to the JV.

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

The Group will also contribute its Motion Pictures division operation to Viacom-18, which produces, acquires and distributes Hindi-language films.

''Additional cooperation in the Indian market beyond this alliance includes joint ownership of the management company for The Indian Film Company, which is in the process of being listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange,'' the statement added.

In the coming months, Viacom's Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks studios will explore additional opportunities for collaboration with Viacom-18.

''India is one of Viacom's priority markets for expansion internationally,'' said Mr Philippe Dauman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom. ''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.'' 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.

TV18 Group CEO Haresh Chawla said, ''We intend to exploit the compelling demographic synergies between our news channels and Viacom-18's entertainment offerings.'' The TV18 Group runs business channels such as CNBC-TV18 and CNBC-Awaaz and has stakes in Global Broadcast News Ltd, which runs English news channel CNN-IBN and Hindi news channel IBN 7.

Announcements about Viacom-18's management and content plans will be made in the coming weeks.

This transaction was supported by Ambit Corporate Finance Pte Ltd and BMR Advisors.


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