Television

Star to form JV with Balaji for Telugu channel

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MUMBAI: Television content production house Balaji Telefilms Ltd. will get into broadcasting through a joint venture with Star Group. The two companies will be launching a Telugu channel with Star as a majority partner.

"We will be partnering with Balaji for the Telugu channel. We will have majority stake in the joint venture," Star India advertising, sales and distribution president Paritosh Joshi tells Indiantelevision.com.

For the Bengali general entertainment channel, Star will continue its joint venture arrangement with the Ananda Bazar Group (ABP) but the corporate structure has not been frozen yet. In Media Content & Communications Services India Pvt. Ltd (MCCS), the company which owns and operates Bengali news channel Star Ananda, Star has a 26 per cent stake while ABP holds the balance 74 per cent.

A separate joint venture for the Bengali general entertainment channel is being considered. Star has the flexibility of holding a higher stake in the JV while in news uplinking regulation restricts it to have a maximum 26 per cent stake.

"The shareholders have been under discussion but nothing has been finalised as yet regarding the corporate structure for the Bengali general entertainment channel," says Joshi.

A two-hour entertainment band in the afternoons on Star Ananda is likely to be introduced in June. "The process has got slightly delayed but we are aiming to come up with the two-hour band in June. We will monitor its success and a full fledged Bengali entertainment channel could come up towards the end of the calendar year," says Joshi.

The Telugu channel is expected to be launched in August-September. "We have started work on the content strategy and are in the process of formalising the joint venture for the Telugu channel," says Joshi.

Balaji has the option of partnering with Star in the southern-language channels. This formed part of the agreement when Star acquired a stake in Balaji Telefilms. But it excludes Vijay TV as Star bought out UTV's stake in the Tamil channel before the deal with Balaji was struck.

Balaji has had to weigh several factors like its existing business with Sun TV Ltd. where it gets healthy revenues. In the last two quarters ended 31 December 2006, Balaji had revenues of Rs 158 million from the Sun network channels.

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