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Viacom and TV 18 Group launch Viacom-18 as joint venture

23-May-2007
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Viacom and TV 18 Group launch Viacom-18 as joint venture

Putting an end to all market speculation, Viacom and TV 18 Group have announced the launch of a joint venture called Viacom-18. This 50:50 strategic alliance will include the launch of a new Hindi general entertainment channel this year, in addition to film production and distribution and growth of MTV Networks India's multi-platform services. The three MTV Network channels -- MTV, VH 1 and Nick -- are already a part of this JV.

The partnership was announced today by Philippe Dauman, President and CEO, Viacom, and Raghav Bahl, Managing Director, TV18 Group. This transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other conditions.

As part of the agreement, Viacom-18 will launch a new Hindi language general entertainment channel in India within the next year. It will include original, locally produced programming and acquisitions. MTV Networks (MTVN), a unit of Viacom, will contribute its successful local networks, MTV, Vh1 and Nickelodeon India, to the joint venture.

Viacom-18 will also launch a further suite of targeted channels in the future from the MTV Networks portfolio, as well as new brands. Digital media content across all of the television brands will be developed and distributed to Indian consumers. The joint venture will also syndicate MTVN programming and newly produced content.

The TV18 Group will contribute its Motion Pictures division operation to the joint venture. This division produces, acquires and distributes Hindi language films.

Additional cooperation in the Indian market beyond this alliance includes joint ownership of the management company for The Indian Film Company, which is in the process of being listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the

London Stock Exchange. In the coming months, Viacom's Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks studios will explore additional opportunities for collaboration with Viacom-18.

“India is one of Viacom’s priority markets for expansion internationally,” commented Dauman. “This partnership will transform and significantly enlarge our business to offer audiences greater content diversity across platforms, and opportunities for advertisers to reach the full spectrum of demographics. The film operation for Viacom-18 will provide strong synergies with the TV and digital media business, as well as complement our Paramount and DreamWorks studios. We are delighted to enter into this partnership with TV18, the most forward-looking, entrepreneurial media company in India.”

Commenting on the partnership, Bahl said, “Having established leadership in news broadcasting and consumer Internet business, the TV18 Group was poised to make an ambitious entry into the multi-platform entertainment space. We are delighted to do this in partnership with Viacom, easily among the most successful entertainment companies on our globe. We are confident that Viacom-18 will entertain India’s burgeoning film and television audiences. Viacom-18 will also propel the TV18 Group into the league of a truly diversified and broad-based media conglomerate.”

“MTV Networks is a pioneer in creating locally customized channels around the world, and this alliance continues that tradition and accelerates our long-term growth in India,” said Judy McGrath, Chairman & CEO, MTV Networks. “The partnership reinforces our vision to be the premier provider of diverse, compelling entertainment experiences to audiences globally across every platform.”

“We have a long history of doing business in India, and it has become an integral part of our global network,” commented Bill Roedy, Vice-Chairman, MTV Networks. “It has also been a tremendous source of creative and cultural inspiration to our global network for many years. This joint venture recognises our long-term commitment to the Indian market. By combining our successful MTVN India business with assets from the TV18 Group, we will also support the robust film and TV production industry, as well as fuel the explosive growth of digital media. We are excited to partner with TV18, one of the industry's most dynamic companies, to serve Indian audiences across every screen.”

Commented Haresh Chawla, Group CEO, TV18, “The entertainment space offers significant opportunities and this partnership gives us the scale to compete and the edge to achieve leadership position. Viacom-18 will build and nurture communities across platforms much like TV18 has successfully done in the news space. We intend to exploit the compelling demographic synergies between our news channels and Viacom-18’s entertainment offerings.”

The TV18 Group, subject to regulatory approvals, proposes to eventually house its investment in this JV through its general broadcast subsidiary GBN.

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