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Tarun Katial to join ZEE, head TV content production biz at Essel Vision

MUMBAI: Tarun Katial, the chief executive officer of Reliance Broadcast Network, is joining the Zee Group.

Katial will lead the TV content production business at Essel Vision Productions Ltd (EVPL) and original content for digital, a source familiar with the development said. He will also spearhead Jaipur Studios, a studio facility developed by ZEEL.

EVPL is the content production arm of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). It is into the production of movies and TV shows.

Katial will report to ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka, the source added.

As CEO of RBN, Katial has been leading the FM radio and TV broadcasting businesses of Anil Ambani.

It is not clear yet whether Katial will continue to oversee the FM radio business after Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) completes the acquisition of this piece of RBN’s business. Currently, ZMCL is awaiting regulatory approvals.

ZEEL will integrate the television business of RBN after the transaction is complete. The company is in the process of getting the regulatory approvals for acquiring RBN’s TV business.

“Katial will not be involved in the TV broadcasting operations at ZEEL. About radio, there is still a grey area as it falls into another Zee company and there is the regulatory part about 49% stake initially moving to ZMCL. As for now, before the regulatory approvals for both the acquisitions are obtained, he could be overseeing RBN’s business,” the source said.

Due to regulatory constraints, ZMCL is acquiring 49% stake in Anil Ambani’s radio company with the option to buy out the remaining 51% after the three-year lock-in period.

As per the deal, RBN will transfer 45 operational and 14 new and non-operational licences to newly incorporated special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) Vrushvik Entertainment Pvt Ltd (VEPL) and Azalia Media Services Pvt Ltd (AMSPL) respectively, through business transfer agreements (BTA).

ZMCL will acquire 49% shares in VEPL and AMSPL. ZMCL and Reliance Land Pvt Ltd (RLPL), which will hold the remaining 51% in the two SPVs, will have a call and put option respectively for the balance 51% after expiry of the lock-in period. The call/put option can be exercised between April 2018 and 2020.

The total consideration of the transaction is valued at Rs 1,592 crore. Out of this, the BTA between RBNL and VEPL itself is valued at Rs 1,420 crore while the BTA between RBNL and AMSPL is Rs 150 crore. The SPA for 49% in VEPL and AMSPL is Rs 10 crore. Similarly, the call/put option for 51% stake in the two SPAs stands at Rs 12 crore.

As for the TV broadcasting business of RBN, ZEEL has agreed to gobble it up for a price consideration of Rs 298.4 crore. The deal will give ZEEL ownership of two entertainment channels, Big Magic and Big Ganga, and four additional TV channel licences. It will also mark the entry of ZEEL into the Bhojpuri market through Big Ganga.

In November 2016, Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Group agreed to acquire the TV and FM businesses of RBN through two separate entities. ZEEL would acquire the general entertainment broadcasting business of Reliance Big Broadcasting, Big Magic Ltd and Azalia Broadcast Pvt Ltd, all part of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group, through a scheme of demerger and definitive agreements. In a separate transaction, ZMCL would acquire 49% of Ambani’s radio network Big FM.

Katial has over 17 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry with earlier stints at Star India and Sony.

In 1998, Katial earned an MBA in marketing, and his self-confessed urge to do ‘something different and exciting’ saw him jump into the world of advertising, where he spent three years with agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Enterprise Nexus, and Ogilvy & Mather. He then joined the Star Network as EVP for content and communications before moving on to Sony Entertainment Television as business head.

In early 2006, Katial set out to launch 92.7 BIG FM. He has been responsible for taking the radio business to a position of leadership and reaching the medium to the farthest corners of India. Synergising with its radio business, he led the company’s foray into television broadcast with its flagship Hindi channel Big Magic and regional entertainment channel Big Magic Ganga. The portfolio also includes Big Productions, a division that functions as a content production house catering to the Indian television landscape.

Katial’s other significant achievements include being voted the NewsCorp Achiever for Asia and being included among the best in the ‘India Today 30 on 30’ list. He was also part of the team that won the first Gold at Cannes.