Venturing into New World

Modi Enterprises recently inked a deal to set up a co-venture with New World Entertainment to produce and distribute programming for the fast-growing Indian market.

The new company, called Modi New World, will license the U.S. indie producer/distribbery’s TV output, including the miniseries “Tom Clancy’s Op Center,” some latenight drama series, and animation.

The New World/Modi co-venture also scored its first Indian TV distribution deal with an outside entity, selling the soap “Valley of the Dolls” to the Doordarshan web. The series launched June 6 and is airing three nights a week at 11 p.m., pitted against Star TV’s “Santa Barbara.” This is a key part of Doordarshan’s counteroffensive against Star’s popular latenight sked.

The co-venture will also get into some local production efforts in India.

“We looked around and discovered that Modi was one of the most professional companies in the business in India,” says James McNamara, president and CEO of New World Entertainment. “This is not just a licensing arrangement. Rather, it’s a relationship that will grow by stages so that we expect to be doing a lot of different things with them in the next few years.”

“Aggressive, clever, real go-getters” is how McNamara describes the execs at Modi with whom New World has been dealing over the past 18 months in setting up their joint operation.

Per McNamara, the partners will soon appoint a managing director to head the joint operation in Bombay and to help get the first joint-production efforts off the ground. These are at first most likely to be low-cost game and talk shows. The point man on the Modi side for the deal with New World is Lalit Modi, one of the sons of company chief Krishan Kumar Modi.

“For many years India had been almost dead for most (U.S.) distributors,” adds Armando Nunez, Jr., president of New World Intl. Television Distribution. “But we know it has huge potential, a prosperous middle class and some new TV and cable services coming onstream.”

There will be many more opportunities for U.S. producers and distributors with cable and private channels, as well as with state-run broadcaster Doordashan, adds Nunez.

The two New World execs also pointed to Modi’s own plans to launch satellite pay channels in India as likely to stimulate competition in the market there and provide additional outlets for New World-backed product.

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