IndiaCast-Disney distribution JV gets CCI nod

MUMBAI: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has green lighted the channel distribution joint venture between IndiaCast Group and The Walt Disney Company India as it feels that the combined might will not adversely harm competition in the marketplace.

The decision is not surprising as the cobbling together of TV18 Group and Disney channels for distribution across analogue and digital platforms is not the biggest consolidation the industry has seen. Media Pro Enterprise India, the joint venture between Zee Turner and Star Den, is by far the largest in size with a bouqet of 78 television channels housed under one roof.

"We did not expect the IndiaCast-Disney deal to get roadblocked by CCI. The Zee-Star merger is far bigger and combines the two leading media houses in India,"a media analyst said.

In its order, CCI said the transaction is "not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India”.
The CCI has cited a reason for this. "After the combination, IndiaCast would discontinue its aggregation tie-up with Sun Distribution Services and accordingly the market share of channels which would be aggregated by IC would be less than that of IndiaCast," the order said.

UTV Global Broadcasting, a Walt Disney subsidiary that broadcasts nine TV channels in India, had filed a notice seeking approval for the 26 per cent stake buy in IC Media with CCI on 24 January.

The deal would see UTV Global Broadcasting, part of The Walt Disney Company India, acquiring a 26 per cent stake in IC Media Distribution Services, a part of Network18 Group, which is a distribution JV between Network18 and TV18.

The yet-to-be-named JV will distribute 35 channels from the TV18, Viacom18, Disney UTV and A+E Networks, making it the second largest distribution company in terms of bouquet of channels after Media Pro Enterprise India.

IC Media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IndiaCast Media Distribution, which is into the business of aggregation of television channels broadcast by TV18 Broadcast, Viacom18 Media and certain other broadcasters.

“It has been stated in the notice that the Disney Group and the IndiaCast Group shall grant exclusive licence to IC to distribute their television channels," the CCI order said.

“It has also been stated in the notice that post-combination, UTV Global Broadcasting and IndiaCast would cease their aggregation business in India as they now propose to carry out the business of providing the service of aggregation in India through IC (Media) by way of the proposed combination,” the order added.

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