UTV, Sun in talks for Tamil kids channel

MUMBAI: UTV is in talks with Kalanithi Maran's Sun Network to jointly launch a Tamil language kids channel.

As per the discussions conducted thus far, UTV will look after the programming and marketing of the channel while the distribution of the channel will be handled by Sun, which runs a cable network in Tamil Nadu called SCV.

UTV, along with promoter Ronnie Screwvala, already runs a Hindi kids channel, Hungama TV. United Home Entertainment is the company that owns and operates Hungama TV.

The talks between UTV and Sun Network are, however, at a preliminary stage, sources say. "Nothing has been finalised and the talks are still inconclusive. UTV wants to launch kids' channels in Tamil and Telugu languages," a source added.

When contacted, Screwvala said the company was in talks with more than one company. "It is too premature at this stage to talk of anything definite," he added, refusing to divulge the name of any single company he was in negotiations with.

Hungama TV is also in talks for roping in an overseas strategic investor. The channel is distributed by Star India as part of its bouquet which includes the two Walt Disney channels and Star One.

The extension of the Hungama TV business is reflected in the joint venture deal with Malaysia's Astro All Asia Network for setting up kids channels in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and later Singapore. UTV will have the option to invest up to 20 per cent stake in the joint venture company within three years.

The capital employed in Hungama TV is Rs 600 million with UTV having pumped in Rs 430 million so far.

Sun Network, a dominant player in the south, which has channels in the general entertainment, movies and music space, does not operate any kids channel. Disney is the only player to have kids' channels with dubbed versions in Tamil and Telugu languages. There is no dedicated Malayalam language kids channel. 

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