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Viacom to file afresh as FIPB rejects proposal for acquiring stake in ETV’s R-GECs

MUMBAI: Viacom Inc will file a fresh application after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) rejected its proposal to acquire 50 per cent stake in five regional general entertainment channels of ETV (now rebranded as Colors).

In October last year, Viacom had applied to the FIPB via Nickelodeon Asia Holdings Pte Ltd (Singapore) to purchase the entire holdings of Shinano Retail Pvt Ltd (India) in Prism TV Pvt Ltd.

Prism TV owns five TV channels—Colors Marathi, Colors Kannada, Colors Bangla, Colors Gujarati, and Colors Odia.

After being deferred multiple times, the application was rejected on 5 May. Sources said that the application was rejected because some additional documents were needed. The company is filing a fresh application with the necessary documents.

TelevisionPost.com had earlier reported that upon Viacom getting the necessary approvals, the five channels would be merged with Viacom18 Media, the 50:50 joint venture between TV18 and Viacom Inc.

TV18 had entered into an agreement to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the regional entertainment channels of ETV in 2012. It also had the option of picking up the balance 50 per cent interest.

Later in 2013, TV18 had offered Viacom Inc the option to pick up the remaining 50 per cent stake in the regional GECs. This could have allowed the two companies to keep all the entertainment channels under one JV while expanding the partnership.

During his last appearance at the FICCI Frames in 2013, Viacom International Media Network president and CEO Robert (Bob) M Bakish had told the media that Viacom was doing due diligence to acquire the remaining 50 per cent stake in ETV regional channels. He had mentioned that the addition of regional channels would be a good strategic opportunity for the business as regional markets have strong growth potential.

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