RBNL to launch re-branded Showbiz by March

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | January 13, 2011
Reliance Broadcast Network to acquire Imagine Showbiz; re-branded channel to launch by March, 2011.

Anil Ambani is surely stalking the Indian television space with some alacrity. It was just last year when his company Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) had become the talk of the Indy-TV town when it joined hands with media conglomerate CBS, to set foot in the English GEC space.

And now, as the new decade takes charge with the advent of 2011, the company is all ready to expand its footprints in the Hindi broadcasting space as well.

RBNL is gearing up to take complete possession of Imagine Showbiz Ltd (ISL), through a buy-out from Cinestar Advertising. The proposed acquisition by RBNL will include a 100 per cent purchase of ISL's shareholding, along with the other assets such as intellectual property rights (IPR), Bollywood content, the technical expertise, including studios and equipment, and the distribution network.

The channel will be rebranded under the Reliance 'Big' banner and is expected to see a relaunch with an enhanced programming change in the lineup by March 2011, inform industry sources.

In a bid to give complete control of Showbiz, originally launched as a joint venture between NDTV Group holding and Cinestar Advertising in August 2008, to RBNL, the final buy-out went through a series of transactions.

Previous to NDTV deciding to sell its stake in NDTV Imagine, NDTV Group owned 51 per cent stake in Showbiz while Cinestar Advertising held the remaining 49 per cent. But, after Turner decided to takeover, the ownership changed hands with Turner holding a 51 per cent stake.

Taking this transaction forward, Turner sold its 51 per cent stake to Cinestar Advertising Pvt Ltd (CAPL) and the deal finally concluded with RBNL, proposing a 100 per cent purchase of ISL's shareholding that lay with CAPL.

So, what does the Showbiz acquisition bring to the RBNL table?

This acquisition, the company claims, will fit well into the overall business strategy of RBNL, leveraging synergies with its radio arm BIG FM, its intellectual property arm BIG Live and its integrated sales offering through BIG Connect. The acquisition will be done through RBNL's wholly owned subsidiary Reliance Television.

According to industry estimates, the buyout price is expected to be in the region of Rs 15-20 crores. And, while launching a Bollywood music channel by RBNL would require an investment in almost the same region, what this deal provides the company as an added advantage is speed to market.

Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network notes that this proposed acquisition is in line with the overall strategy to create ownership of multi-media consumer touch-points. It will further strengthen the company's television portfolio, from the English space into the Hindi entertainment space. For the record, Big CBS Networks, the joint venture between Reliance Broadcast Network and CBS Studios International, launched Big CBS Prime, the first of the three, in late November.

Speaking to afaqs!, Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network states, "Since we already have an established product in the music entertainment space, the ISL buyout provides excellent synergies giving a television dimension to the radio business."

"This deal will also help in content acquisition, content utilisation, audience target, cross promotion and advertiser acquisition," he adds.

Additionally, RBNL will now also distribute Showbiz along the network of the three BIG CBS channels, giving it additional strength on ground. The deal thus offers distribution synergies with Reliance Digicom, while leveraging Bollywood content from Group companies like BIG Pictures, BIG Music and Home Video.

Since both the properties target similar audiences and markets, the deal will allow for common use of research, music expertise and audience mapping analysis.

RBNL's intellectual property business BIG Live, will also see business synergies with this channel while the company will be able to monetise this channel through RBNL's integrated sales arm BIG Connect.

Also, with this deal, Turner will concentrate its focus on Imagine TV in the general entertainment space.

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