The first day of NATPE 2008 Conference has already seen many business meetings and key decisions taken. Many companies are clear in their intent to begin business in India, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), too, is in the list of the organisations that has India high on the 2008 agenda. MGM officials informed that the company was all geared to enter India with a library English movie channel to begin with, and licensing deals.
Gary Marenzi, Co-President, Worldwide Television Distribution, MGM, said, “We are not as big as some of the other companies, so we aren’t aspiring something like that either. India is a very important market for us, and different divisions of MGM is geared to make a mark there.”
MGM’s international television division is headed by Bruce Tuckman. Sharing some plans that this division had for India, Marenzi said, “MGM is looking at launching an MGM branded channel in India soon, I would say 2008 is the target. It would be a 100 per cent MGM product to start with, a self-contained movie channel. We are beginning as a library English movie channel. We have over 4,000 titles and the idea is to be able to bring that to India. The indications of the Indian market are bright. The market is looking bigger for western programming.”
Marenzi was clear that MGM didn’t intend to begin with massive investments into local content. He said, “We would be more of a niche movie channel, there wouldn’t be any first runs. Everything will then organically grow from movies. The channel may see some interstitial programming in the beginning though.” He further divulged that MGM was in the process of finalising a business model to enter India. He said, “We could be entering into joint ventures with some local partners, and they would be running the operations on-ground. We would have some dedicated MGM employees as well in the local management.”
Another activity from MGM for India is in the licensing domain. He said, “There is a lot more competition for our product than ever before. From movies, TV shows to the James Bond library, we are trying to bring a lot to India, and spread it out across multiple broadcasters. We are meeting a couple of them at NATPE Conference in fact.”
It may be recalled that MGM had a presence in India a few years back in partnership with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd that together housed the channel Zee MGM. This partnership was severed and Zee launched the standalone English movie channel Zee Studios. Another library English movie channel in India is PIX. It may also be recalled that in mid-2007 it was reported that MGM was setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India called MGM Programming Service India (MGM India).