Television

Enter, Rajdeep the entrepreneur!

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MUMBAI: NDTV managing editor Rajdeep Sardesai is all set to turn into an entrepreneur. A proposed start-up, led by him, has already been assured of funding by investors.

Broadcast industry sources indicate that after Sardesai finally parts ways with NDTV --- a difficult and emotional decision for him still --- a new company would be set up, which would deal with various aspects of TV broadcasting, including generating and managing content for a new news channel.

This new venture is also likely to have the services of NDTV CFO Sameer Manchanda, who, according to the sources, is also poised to exit with Sardesai after a long stint.

Though official confirmation is not available, a clutch of investors is likely to back Sardesai. According to the stock market buzz, Television Eighteen Ltd, reportedly, might be one of the strategic investors. The shareholding pattern amongst various investors is yet to be worked out and finalised.

It is also being rumoured that over a longer period of time this start-up might bring into India other TV channels like MSNBC. Various companies related to this development were not available for comments.

Interestingly, news about Sardesai's exit from NDTV started floating around the stock markets few days back and on Wednesday, TV-18 informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it has decided to seek shareholders' nod for raising funds, $50 million, from international markets for funding its expansion plans. The mode of raising the money has not been discussed and it could be through the issue of debt instruments or equity-backed instruments or even a mix of the two.

At present, TV-18 runs two channels in India, the English CNBC-TV 18 and the Hindi consumer channel Awaaz. Through another company (headquartered abroad and promoted by Raghav Bahl), South Asia World, a channel catering to the Indian diaspora, is beamed to the UK and the US. There are talks of SAW being brought to India too.

On the other hand, NDTV, which turned a broadcaster in 2003 April, runs three channels, NDTV 24x7, NDTV India in Hindi and the bi-lingual business news channel NDTV Profit. The TV-18 and NDTV scrips closed on the Bombay Stock Exchange on 13 April at Rs 227.40 and Rs. 1833.10, respectively.

According to information available, the TV industry is likely to see several high profile movements with news channels, including newly-launched ones like Channel 7 from the Jagran group, on a poaching spree.

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