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TV 18 spreads its tentacles

Jul 20, 2000

From being an exclusive content provider for CNBC India, TV 18 has over the last six months graduated to providing investment advisory via an internet site Moneycontrol.com. The latest move of acquiring a 26% stake in Indiabulls.com would give the company a stake in a transaction–based online broking business. This would be funded via the proceeds of disinvestment of its 20% stake in CNBC India to Sony Entertainment Corporation. Besides, the company has also announced Project Broadband, which would be offering both audio–video via the net. The management is of the opinion that just as MSNBC.com and CNN.com have given Microsoft and NBC (both own MSNBC.com) as well as CNN a share of the Internet space, a general portal would give TV 18 another avenue for providing content. This content would however be different from the content that it would provide for Moneycontrol.com. The management has also announced that it has signed up with a partner who would be as high profile as the partners in CNBC (GE, Dow Jones and Sony).

However, the company is seriously rethinking its entry into FM radio. At present, it has an equity stake in Vertex, a 50:50 joint venture with Dabur India, which has bagged frequencies in five cities viz. Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Calcutta and Bhopal. The management feels that the entry fees (license fees) are far too high and the FM radio business would most likely go the cellular way. (Cellular operators who paid very high license fees ending up bleeding.) Though the management would like to be a content provider for radio, it is rethinking its presence in the segment via an equity stake.

Overall the management focus is to be a content provider and leverage its minority stakes in the various delivery vehicles to bag exclusive rights for providing content. In the short term however, it would increase the risk profile of the company.

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