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Nimbus gears up for convergence

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Mumbai based television software production and airtime sales company Nimbus Communications is making a big time foray into the Internet biz with the intention of transforming itself into a powerful e-media company. The Harish Thawani promoted venture would be the first company to offer free Internet access in India. It has struck a marketing arrangement with Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. The group has already paid VSNL RS 200 million for a fixed number of subscribers. A subsidiary christened Nimbus Online would look after Internet access.

It also is working on creating an array of vertical portals under the banner name NirvanaZone.com and it is intending to pump in RS 201.5 million in content for the portals. It is expected to launch on 15 February, 2000. The mother portal (NirvanaZone.com) would focus on C-2-C and B-2-C areas and is expected to be the "one stop shop for the funky and cool minded people". The portal boasts to have everything from cricket to dating. 1,200 hours of cricket programming is already in the process of being converted into streaming media. The company is known to have a joint venture formed with the Industrial Development Corporation of India (IDBI). The company is forecasting an ambitious three million page view target three months from its launch.

Nimbus Communications' two television channels are expected to be launched this year. One would be a women-centric channel and the other one an entertainment channel called Showbiz TV. The latter is expected to be launched by July 2000.

Nimbus has not ignored the lucrative radio business. It also will launch eight FM radio channels and make its content synchronise with the group's Internet business.

The media giant is already ready to come out with the RS 1.92 billion IPO to fund its plans.

It appears as though Mr Thawani is not leaving any stone unturned in the era of convergence and hoping to be well ahead in the race. He already has Mr Chandra leading the race with Internet access, a bouquet of television channels, distribution, satellites and satellite telephony. Will Thawani replicate the success achieved by India's Murdoch Mr Subhash Chandra?

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