CNN, iBN in co-branding, content sharing news deal

MUMBAI: A rumour is finally turning into a reality as CNN stitches up a deal with an Indian news broadcaster.

India Broadcast News or iBN, whose shareholders include the Television Eighteen Group, Rajdeep Sardesai and Sameer Manchanda, has managed to swing a licencing agreement with Time Warner group's CNN, beating other Indian suitors.

The CNN deal, likely to be announced soon when formally inked, will enable the proposed English language general news channel iBN to go in for co-branding with the American news broadcaster on the lines of CNBC TV18 business channel.

Apart from co-branding, iBN will have access to CNN's global content and presence. What is not clear at this juncture is whether this deal would also hold good for other general news channels, apart from iBN, that Global Broadcast News Pvt Ltd proposes to launch in Indian languages.

Under the terms of agreements, being hammered into a final shape in Delhi over the last few days, iBN will pay a mutually agreed upon royalty to CNN for using the American news brand, started by Ted Turner few decades back.

However, CNN will not have any equity stake and/or editorial control in the proposed English news channel, which is wholly promoted by Indians at present, to facilitate easy regulatory clearances.

The Indian government last week announced stringent media norms to regulate TV content and ensure foreign owned companies do not hold beyond 26 per cent stake in news channels uplinking from the country.

The publicly traded Television Eighteen group, which recently underwent a complex restructuring to comply with government norms to continue uplinking CNBC TV18 channel from India, was unavailable for comments.

Clarifications sought from CNN's parent company via an email, sent yesterday, elicited no response till the time of writing this report.

Over the last 18 months, Indian broadcast industry has been abuzz with rumours of CNN flirting with Indian news broadcasters, including the Prannoy Roy promoted NDTV LTD, to strike up a local deal that would enable it to tap the growing Indian news market in a better fashion.

According to broadcast industry estimates the Indian news market is presently worth Rs 5 billion. Three years back, the segment was pegged at RS 1 billion.

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