Zee Media Corporation is in advanced discussions to acquire Business Broadcast News, an Anil Ambani-owned company that operates English business news channel BTVi, several people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
A deal is imminent and the matter will come up for approval before Zee Media’s board at its meeting scheduled for next week, they said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Zee Media could pay between Rs 80 crore and Rs 100 crore for the company, one of them said. “ZMCL (Zee Media) is interested in buying BTVi as it will add an English business channel to its portfolio and complement Zee Business (a Hindi channel).”
Zee Media operates the TV news channels of Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group and its newspaper, DNA.
A spokesman for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group declined to comment when asked about the talks. A Zee Media spokesperson said the news is incorrect, when asked.
In November last year, Zee Entertainment Enterprises, another Essel group company, acquired the television broadcast business of Ambani-owned Reliance Broadcast Networks (RBN). At the time, Zee Media had picked a 49% stake in the radio business, operated under Big FM umbrella, with an understanding to acquire the remaining 51% after March next year.
While RBN ran entertainment channels Big Magic and Big Ganga, the news channel, BTVi was part of a different company, Business Broadcast News, which Ambani had acquired from former UTV boss Ronnie Screwvala.
“After selling off RBN, it was writing on the wall,” one of the people said on the sale of BTVi. “Having a standalone channel did not make any sense for Ambani, while it does make a lot of sense for ZMCL, which is looking at expanding its portfolio of news channels.”
English business news is a small genre in the TV space with two strong players: Times Group-owned ET Now and Mukesh Ambani-owned CNBC TV18.
After suffering losses for many years, Prannoy Roy’s NDTV shut down its English business news channel, NDTV Profit, in June this year.
BTVi continues to remain on the air. BTVi was launched by Screwvala in April 2008 as UTVi and soon it was renamed Bloomberg UTV after the company signed a content and licensing deal with American media and data company Bloomberg.
In 2012, when Screwvala sold UTV to the Walt Disney group, the Reliance Group acquired Screwvala’s stake in Business Broadcast News and renamed the channel Bloomberg TV India.
In January last year, Business Broadcast News and Bloomberg decided not to renew the licensing agreement. On August 1, Bloomberg TV India was renamed BTVi.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, entered into a joint venture with Raghav Bahl-owned Quintillion Media to launch a business news channel, Bloomberg Quint. Bahl is awaiting the broadcast licence from the information & broadcasting ministry to launch the channel.
Source: Economic Times