UTV targets June launch of youth channel with Astro

MUMBAI: UTV Software Communications' joint venture with Astro of Malaysia is fast taking shape. The youth-centric channel, aimed at the age-group of 17-25 years, is set for launch by June.

"We are working on the content research. We plan to launch the channel by June," says UTV Communications COO Ronald D'Mello.

UTV will be investing Rs 1 billion in its 50:50 venture with Astro in broadcasting.

"We will be expanding to a 360 degree entertainment venture including a TV channel as the anchor, to be flanked by activities on the internet, new media, ground events, merchandising and licensing," says D'Mello.

UTV will be releasing DVDs of Don and Khosla Ka Ghosla this quarter. Namesake will have an international and national release in the third week of March.

UTV has posted a consolidated revenue of Rs 704 million, which includes capital gains of Rs 263 million from the sale of United Home Entertainment Ltd (Hungama TV), for the third quarter ended 31 December 2006.

Net profit stood at Rs 283 million while EBITDA was at Rs 303 million for the period. The company has consolidated the financials of UESL, UTV-US, UTV-UK and UTV-Mauritius.

UTV also announced an interim dividend of 25 per cent.

Commenting on the results UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala said, ?The quarter has been a very eventful one; while the Hungama TV deal with The Walt Disney Company was consummated during the quarter, the Company also decided to make investments in two gaming companies ? Ignition Entertainment and Indiagames Ltd in console and mobile space respectively. With these proposed investments UTV has acquired worldwide capabilities of content creation and distribution across all gaming platforms."

UTV has entered into exclusive sales and marketing tie up with Radaan Media, the largest TV production house in South India. "This will result in significant growth in Television businesses in the months to come. In addition to this and as a step towards entering the South Indian film production space, UTV has tied up with Radaan for co-production of all South Indian films,? Screwvala added.

UTV is acquiring a 70 per cent stake in Ignition Entertainment Ltd (UK based company with interests in console game development, publishing and distribution across the globe) as well as a controlling stake in IndiaGames (gaming company in India, with interests in mobile and online gaming) for a total consideration of Rs 1.28 billion.

UTV has inducted Walt Disney International president Andy Bird and Pantaloon's Kishore Biyani as non executive directors.

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