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Slow but steady: Anil Ambani gears to become key player in media and entertainment segment

12-January-2006
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Slow but steady: Anil Ambani gears to become key player in media and entertainment segment

Even as television channels are fighting it out tooth and nail for a bigger share of the idiot box, a silent contender is slowly but steadily making its presence felt – the Anil Ambani run ADA Enterprises, which operates with under brand name ‘Reliance’. The organisation is getting its act right in the distribution segment, making its presence felt in different mediums like radio and TV, and getting the right people like Rajesh Sawhney, Divya Gupta – and as industry word has it, even Tarun Katial – on board, to steer the entertainment business.

Some of the first efforts that came from the Anil Ambani Group, which indicated the keenness it has in the medium, were in 2004, when Reliance Infocomm was involved in active test runs on broadband TV. More was seen when DTH license application was made under the name of Reliance Skymagic, which was reportedly later changed to Reliance Bluemagic in mid 2005. While this was taking care of the distribution relay system, Reliance has been hungry on acquisitions in the media sector and Divya Gupta, former President of The Media Edge, was roped in late last year to advise the group on this. Gupta joined ADA Enterprises as Media Advisor to the Chairman’s office.

Gupta’s key role comprises identifying and suggesting the right media acquisitions for the group. One of the first one on that was seen when Reliance Capital (RCL) announced that it would acquire a 51 per cent stake in Adlabs Films Ltd for around Rs 350 crore in July 2005. A Reliance Capital spokesperson has said then that the intention was to acquire Adlabs. The company has even been successful in getting radio licenses in the first phase, where licenses were issued to the A and A+ towns.

Tarun Katial is expected to begin his work on Reliance from this segment – a shift of medium for the Sony EVP and Business Head? Perhaps, but apparently not for long. Though nothing official has been said anywhere, industry word is that ADA Enterprises is eyeing television business as well, and the one name that keeps popping repetitively is SaharaOne and Sahara Motion Pictures. No word of confirmation from any corner is forthcoming on this, but sources add that Katial’s role is expected to grow when developments on this front are crystallised.

Katial and Sony have no comments to offer at present on the matter, but if the industry word is anything to go by, perhaps what they are waiting for now is an opportune moment.

Meanwhile, Reliance Entertainment is going about its way to gain better foothold in the media and the entertainment segment, and by the looks of it, the plan appears to be a long term one. However, if and when the entity will begin actually giving problems to the likes of STAR India cannot really be said at present.

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