Times Group forms JV with Yogesh Radhakrishnan for TV channel distribution

MUMBAI: Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), the publishers of The Times of india and The Economic Times, has entered into a joint venture with Yogesh Radhakrishnan, a cable & satellite industry veteran, to form a television channel distribution company.

Media Network and Distribution (India) Ltd (MNDIL) will launch brand ‘Prime Connect’, which will be an independent distribution platform.

Prime Connect will organise and distribute channels in India through various platforms like cable (MSOs), DTH, IPTV and other emerging digital platforms across homes and commercial establishments.

Under the agreement, MNDIL will be an exclusive distributor for The Times Television Network channels - Times Now, ET Now, Movies Now and Zoom.

English news channel Times Now and Bollywood entertainment channel Zoom were earlier distributed by Star Den. The shift to an independent bouquet follows the expiry of Times Television Network‘s contract with Star Den on 1 January.

Times‘ other two channels, ET Now and Movies Now, were handled by an internal team.

BCCL managing director Vineet Jain said, “India is the fastest growing Cable & Satellite market, with demonstrable growth potential for the distribution services industry. Distribution has played a significant role in shaping the success of Times Television Network’s four channels and our learning has contributed to the idea of creating Prime Connect. With this JV, BCCL expands its TV foray beyond broadcasting, into distribution services. Prime Connect can now seamlessly enable other TV channels to expand their reach and their revenues, all resulting in an enhanced financial performance.” 
Prime Connect will further expand its bouquet by including more third party channels for distribution.

The company will focus on strengthening C&S distribution and placement for independent broadcasters, expanding into new revenue streams in current analog markets and exploring future digital potential of the Indian cable & satellite industry. 
MNDIL MD and CEO Yogesh Radhakrishnan said, “India is a very dynamic, young TV market and already has the third largest number of C&S subscribers in the world. Opportunities for growth are abundant; however we need to harness our resources to reach our maximum growth potential. One of the biggest problems of the industry is the lack of platforms for independent broadcasters resulting in fewer independent ventures. The carriage market especially is in a chaotic state at the moment and it is causing great impediment for successful launches.

The industry is plagued with issues of under-declaration by cable TV operators. "Prime Connect aims to increase transparency through strategy and technology. This new digital platform will not only revolutionise the C&S sector but also help the Indian public to enjoy uninterrupted and affordable digital options,” added Radhakrishnan.

There are already four big distribution joint venture companies in India - Star Den, Zee Turner, MSM Discovery (TheOneAlliance) and the recently formed Sun18 Media Services.

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