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MTV tunes into SS Music

06-April-2004
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MTV tunes into SS Music

MTV Networks is in talks with Chennai-based Martin Lottery Group to acquire stake in Southern Spice Music (SS Music) channel.

The move is aimed at having a South Indian music channel to complement MTV’s strong reach among Hindi and English audiences. SS Music is the only multi-lingual music channel in the country which plays hit songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, English and Hindi.

An internal team from MTV has done a due diligence on SS Music. Martin Group also owns Sur Sangeet, a Hindi music channel. The talks, however, are not for a stake in Sur Sangeet.

A team of senior executives from MTV International who were in India feel that acquisition could be a possible route to grow business in the country.

“We are exploring the possibility of a South Indian music channel. One of the options is through acquisition. We are in talks with SS Music. But nothing has been firmed up yet,” said MTV Networks International chief operating officer Alex Ferrari.

The other option is for MTV to create and launch a South Indian language music channel. The international music channel from the Viacom stable has already successfully localised its content to suit the Indian market. For clawing into the southern region of India, MTV could itself create content in these languages.

A joint partnership with MTV will allow SS Music to increase its market share. “A team from MTV came and have done an internal due diligence. No external agency has done the valuations yet. A final decision is yet to be taken. We feel an association with MTV would add value to our programming and creative strength,” said SS Music president Ramesh Babu.

SS Music has two sources of revenue: from advertising and live lottery broadcast. It is not clear yet whether MTV would also include live broadcast in the valuation, said Mr Babu. According to him, live lottery broadcast accounts for 20 per cent of the channel’s total revenues. Martin Lottery Group runs a paper and online lottery.

SS Music’s primary target is the youth in South India, a positioning similar to what MTV and Channel V offer in Hindi and English.

The channel has mega events like the VJ hunt which is held in the four southern states.

Launched in 2001, SS Music claims that it reaches out to 15 million cable and satellite homes. “We are present in the entire southern region, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata,” said Mr Babu.

MTV, Mr Ferrari said, is looking at a second channel which could be bundled with the main music channel. “We have a bundle of channels in the US. We are looking at a southern language music channel as an option for the Indian market,” Mr Ferrari added. MTV and Nickelodeon are the two channels from the Viacom stable which are available in India.‘

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