Viacom’s plans for the Indian market were made clear by Amit Jain, MD, MTV Networks India earlier in the year when he said that the India business model was undergoing a complete brand reconstruction and that the Viacom vision of providing entertainment in television, films and digital space were the key areas of work for India.
In the process, the organisation has been in talks with various entities to carve the road ahead and identify whether organic route (Viacom’s own expansion) or inorganic routes (by way of acquisitions) would be the road ahead for the company. A report in a section of the media on October 3, 2006 indicated that Viacom had moved forward in its endeavour and there was definitive action that could be expected between Sahara One Media and Entertainment and Viacom, wherein the latter was eyeing a 50 per cent stake in the media company.
Viacom officials have denied this. An official communiqué released stated: “A recent media story that talks of our interest in Sahara One has no factual basis and is totally speculative in nature. Sahara One is one of the many propositions and there have been no development from Viacom’s end that would place Sahara One ahead of other options.”
Explaining further, Jain said, “We are talking to at least 10 different organisations across areas of television, films and digital. Even since our plans are known, there are many who have approached us. We are clear that we have to grow in India. As a responsible manager, it is my job to explore every option that is there to achieve this and go through a definitive set of criteria that will help us make up our mind.”
“At present, we are in the process of presenting a summarised list of options to the decision makers. In fact, one of the strong possibilities is doing it ourselves. These details of stakes and shares are more than premature – we haven’t even reached a short-listing stage as yet,” said Jain.
The statement further said: “Viacom has identified India as one of the key emerging markets and over the last few months, have been exploring options (both organic as well as inorganic) to substantially fuel MTV Networks growth plans in India. To that effect, we have received several interesting proposition from varied fields in the entertainment domain. As of now, we are open to several opportunities, not just in television but across other entertainment platforms as well. Anything more said on the subject at this point in time would be premature.”