Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is set to take a 30% stake in an Indian broadcaster that owns a stable of Telugu-language channels.
SPT and Hyderabad-based MAA Television Network have entered into a strategic alliance that gives the former or one of its local affiliates the option to take just under a third of the latter. The pair has signed a letter of intent to this affect.
MAA’s four main promoters and shareholders, N Prasad, K Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna Akkineni and Allu Arvind, currently own about 95% of its shares. The deal will go through subject to a ‘definitive agreement’ and necessary subsequent regulatory approval.
Eleven-year-old MAA operates four channels – general entertainment-themed MAA, MAA Music, MAA Movies and MAA TV, the latter of which launched in February – and has local satellite telecast rights to about 700 films, most of which come from Bengal’s ‘Tollywood’ industry.
“An alliance between SPT and MAA TV will provide strategic opportunities for both companies, as well as great viewing for television audiences in India. We look forward to a prosperous relationship for all,” said Manjit Singh, CEO of SPT’s Indian operator MSM India.
“This indicates SPT’s faith in MAA TV as a leading Telugu general entertainment channel network and the growth potential of the regional TV firmament. With Sony as a strategic partner, Telugu TV viewers can expect more and more quality programmes and family viewing from our network of channels. It will be a win-win formula with many complementary benefits,” said Prasad, MAA’s chairman.
The development comes after SPT acquired Bengali movie network Channel 8 for an undisclosed amount three years ago and merged it into its Indian channel portfolio, which includes global brands such as AXN.
It also comes during an extended period of consolidation in the Indian TV market, which has this year already seen Network18 Group acquire most of smaller rival ETV’s channel assets for nearly US$400m.
In February, The Walt Disney Company’s local operation announced it was taking a controlling interest in its part-owned firm UTV Software Communications.
Earlier, in 2009, Time Warner bought a 92% stake in NDTV subsidiary Imagine for US$126.5m through subsidiary Turner Asia Pacific Ventures. A year later US pay-TV operator Scripps Networks International came close to buying into NDTV Lifestyle in 2010 but the deal ultimately failed.
RTL and CBS have also launched joint venture channels with Reliance Broadcast Networks in recent times.