Television

What will James Murdoch and Uday Shankar invest in?

The Hollywood Reporter has speculated that they will enter the news business. What else?

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MUMBAI: James Murdoch and Uday Shankar have announced a new joint initiative to invest in health care, online education and digital media initiatives in India. We all know that. For James, the partnership is expected to be a major priority and the centre of gravity for his $2 billion Lupa Systems, according to what he told the Financial Times.

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has now speculated that the two might be relying on their operational expertise to find investment opportunities as well. James has non-compete time bars with Disney to enter entertainment TV (which probably will end in 2021), but he has no restrictions to get into news TV or digital publishing.

According to the publication, James is most passionate about news and he and Uday did very well with Star News, before they vacated the space in favour of its Indian partner ABP.

That was some time ago. Today the Indian TV news business has problems of plenty and a-plenty. On the other hand, digital publishers are struggling to make money from online and have yet to attain significant valuations.

THR says that it would not be “surprised if the two try to disrupt and capitalise the space there (meaning news).”

Others speculate that James and Uday are studying whether they could invest in entertainment once again. It cannot be forgotten that Lupa Systems was in the news for being one of the investors considering putting up cash for Zee Entertainment Enterprises when Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka were scrambling for partners to pay back creditors with whom they had pledged their shares. And Uday and Punit are reported to be good friends. Punit has been reinventing Zee, bringing in senior professionals, and focusing the entire company as a content engine and one that has a greater emphasis on digital streaming and technology, along with its legacy broadcasting business, which will have legs for sometime in India.

Others, however, dismiss any moves by James and Uday to step into Zee as balderdash, saying that the duo will be razor sharp focused on only new and emerging digital businesses, which can be multi-baggers.

Only the duo and their senior teams know which direction they will take. And they are not talking. 

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