TV Today mulls business channel, Bloomberg tie-up

MUMBAI: The Aroon Purie-controlled TV Today Network is exploring starting a business news channel in association with American financial and business news major Bloomberg.

The tie-up can involve Bloomberg picking up an equity stake in the proposed business channel. Even if an equity deal doesn’t happen, the tie-up would certainly be a licencing and co-branding one on the lines that Time Warner inked with the TV18 group for the English news channel CNN IBN in 2005 as and when it’s concluded.

When contacted, TV Today declined to comment.

Unofficially, though, the Delhi-headquartered TV Today attempted to play down the developments, saying such reports were "speculative at the moment." Insiders, however, insisted work on a business channel has started.

The network has earmarked between Rs 350 million to Rs 400 million for operating a new business news channel, company sources said.

The Indian news network is targeting to launch the business channel in the first quarter of 2007, if not earlier. However, the deal is subject to regulatory and government clearances.

Last year, Bloomberg had applied to India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for a proposed television software venture, which will produce and distribute business and financial news television programmes in English to local television channels.

Bloomberg's TV channel that was available in India till a couple of months back is off air as it hasn't yet applied for landing rights, a new rule that's being pursued by the Indian government to monitor TV channels uplinked from outside India.

Interestingly, TV Today Network floated a subsidiary company, christened TV Today Network (Business) Ltd, during the last financial year ended 31 March 2006. The development was communicated to capital markets and investment experts some time ago.

"Consolidated financial results (for FY 2006) include the results of 100 per cent subsidiary TV Today Network (Business) Limited, which was formed during the current year and is yet to commence business. Accordingly, figures of corresponding period/year are not applicable," the company had said in a statement. The stock market buzz signifies that TV Today is likely to launch the business channel through this subsidiary company.

In an interview given to in 2004, Purie had expressed the possibility of starting a business news channel.

Presently, TV Today operates Hindi market leader Aaj Tak, its English sibling Headlines Today, a Hindi version of Headlines Today called Tez and Dilli Aaj Tak. TV Today scrip closed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Wednesday at Rs 76.75 after opening the day at Rs 76.75.

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