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IndiaCast, Disney UTV JV to dissolve; IndiaCast to distribute Disney UTV channels as agent
MUMBAI: IndiaCast Media Distribution and Disney UTV have decided to end their joint venture even as the deadline to comply with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) content aggregator regulation approaches.
IndiaCast UTV was a 74:26 JV with IndiaCast as the majority partner. The structure of Indiacast Media, a joint venture (JV) between TV18 and Viacom18, will stand. TV18 Broadcast holds 50 per cent stake in Viacom18, the company which operates channels such as Colors, MTV, Nick and Vh1.
“We will be dissolving our step-down JV with Disney UTV. But we will be the agent for distributing the Disney UTV channels,” IndiaCast Media Distribution Group CEO Anuj Gandhi told TelevisionPost.com.
The decision to disband the JV was taken in the backdrop of the TRAI regulations. According to the broadcast sector regulator, content aggregators cannot bundle channels from more than one broadcaster, except if they are part of the same promoter group.
IndiaCast will, however, continue to distribute Disney UTV channels as an agent. Disney UTV has a bouquet of nine channels – UTV Movies, UTV Stars, UTV World Movies, Disney Junior, UTV Action, Bindass, Hungama TV, Disney Channel and Disney XD.
For IndiaCast, thus, the number of channels it will handle will remain the same. The JV was distributing 46 channels from the TV18, Viacom18, Disney UTV, Eenadu Group and A+E Networks|TV18 to cable, direct to-home (DTH) and Headend-in-the-sky (HITS) platforms in India.
TV18 network comprises 20 channels that include CNBC-TV18, CNBC-Awaaz, CNN-IBN, IBN7, CNBC-TV18 Prime HD, IBN Lokmat, ETV Gujarati, ETV Marathi, ETV Bangla, ETV Kannada, ETV Oriya, ETV UP, ETV MP, ETV Rajasthan, ETV Urdu, ETV Bihar, ETV News Kannada, ETV News Bangla, ETV Haryana/Himachal Pradesh and ETV News Gujarati.
Viacom18 network has 11 channels in the bouquet that include Colors, MTV, MTV Indies, Rishtey, Nick, Vh1, Sonic, Comedy Central, Nick Jr./Teen Nick, Colors HD and MTV Indies HD. A+E Networks|TV18 network comprises two channels – History TV18 and History TV18 HD.
Eenadu Group channels include ETV, ETV Andhra Pradesh and ETV Telangana.
TRAI’s content aggregator regulation is bringing about major changes in the distribution companies. Late last week, MSM Discovery, the 12-year-old JV distribution company that operates under the brand name TheOneAlliance, said that it will continue to be the distribution agent of Multi Screen Media (MSM), Discovery Communications and TV Today group of channels.
The distribution deal with Times Television Network (TTN), however, was terminated with mutual consent. Prior to that, MSMD and Neo Sports Broadcast had mutually decided to end their association in the wake of TRAI’s regulation.
The first casualty of the content aggregator regulation was MediaPro, with Star India and ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) calling off their JV MediaPro and agreeing to set up independent affiliate sales teams. News broadcasters NDTV and Media Content & Communication Services (MCCS), being earlier handled by MediaPro, are distributing their channels.
TRAI had in February amended the existing regulatory framework to specify the roles and responsibilities of the content aggregators. The authority had given six months’ time to aggregators to rework their agreements in order to ensure compliance with the regulation.