Network 18 is all set to seal a deal with ETV on Tuesday for a stake in its regional channel bouquet, some sources reveal.
According to the sources and some media reports, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd, is eyeing to buy a stake in the merged entity.
The reports stated that Mukesh Ambani has been in talks with the Raghav Bahl, the promoter of Network 18, over acquiring a minor stake in the company.
This would be a merger of 11 regional channels of Eenadu TV (E TV), one Telugu news channel with the Network 18.
The deal would help the company getting access to the huge regional market to compete with other groups such as Star and Zee.
The Network 18 broadcast has four National news channels: CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaz, IBN7 and CNN IBN.
The reports surfaced after Wall Street Journal had quoted that, “one person familiar with the situation said an option being explored for Ambani to take a minority stake in the Network 18 and then eventually combine Network 18 with E TV, a regional broadcaster in which he already has a large investment.”
However, it is yet not clear if Mukesh Ambani would be investing his personal wealth or would make an investment on behalf of Reliance industries.
For Network 18, a cash injection by Mukesh Ambani will be a major financial boost as the company is trying to reduce a heavy debt-load.
With the big business houses seeking to cater the huge demand for entertainment and news, the big question is whether the news media industry will now be controlled by the corporates.
Last month, one of India’s original TV entrepreneurs sold his remaining stake to Walt Disney, which has already bought 48 percent in UTV Software communications Ltd.
Mukesh Ambani\\\’s younger brother, Anil, who heads the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, has interests in media, film and entertainment through his Reliance Entertainment unit.
Anil Ambani has also bought large stakes in TV Today and other news media companies.