Star, UTV announce JV for Vijay TV

Star Group Limited and UTV announced in Chennai today the formation of a joint venture which will oversee Tamil regional language channel Vijay TV. Star has taken a controlling 51 per cent majority stake in Vijay Televisions Ltd, the UTV subsidiary which manages the channel, while the remaining 49 per cent remains with other shareholders, primarily UTV. The JV covers content, distribution, ad sales and marketing.

The JV will focus on content production and distribution in Tamil and will enable Vijay TV programming to reach new markets within India and overseas under the Star bouquet, an official release says.

Peter Mukerjea, CEO STAR India, said: ?Vijay TV is an established brand in the market and brings to the table local experience and equity with the consumers. Vijay TV will complement our success in Hindi language programming, and help us penetrate deeper into South India ? the synergies are obvious.?

?The regional language market has huge growth potential and a joint venture with Star will give Vijay TV the right impetus to take it to the next level,? said Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman of UTV.

Mukerjea ruled out any change in the name of the channel and said he expected the channel to be ready to pose a serious challenge to its rivals before the year was out. Mukerjea said they would be refurbishing Vijay TV's film library as well as pumping money into development of programming but would provide no details about the roadmap that had been set out to reposition the channel.

On what would happen to CEO Rohit Adya in the new dispensation, Mukerjea said he would be returning to UTV. Ajay Vidyasagar who has come in as COO will be heading the channel.

While the broadcast of Vijay TV channel stays with UTV under its subsidiary Vijay Broadcasting, the JV will provide content, distribution, ad sales and marketing to the channel.

The new company has reportedly been floated to circumvent the statute that foreign companies cannot hold more than 20 per cent in a satellite channel while uplinking from India.

It is too early in the day to predict how far Star's acquisition of Vijay TV will impact on the the channel stakes in Tamil Nadu with Kalanithi Maran's Sun TV being far and away the leader but Tamil television is bound to see a sea change with the big boys Star and Zee (Asianet Bharati - soon to be Zee Alpha) making their entry.

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