NEW DELHI — The Indian government last week sided with the Modi media group and stopped Disney from launching a 24-hour children’s channel.
The Mouse House is still entangled in a 50-50 joint venture with Modi to distribute Disney product to various channels in India.
Modi has objected to Disney launching an independent channel while the current deal is still on.
Modi took the case to the government for resolution. The government has a policy that any foreign company with an existing joint venture in India needs “a no-objection certificate” from the Indian partner if it wants to set up a venture in the same or a related business.
Last November Disney rushed senior execs Jeanette Ling, regional director for business and legal affairs, and Chris Williams, VP for business development, to New Delhi to seek the intervention of Indian Minister of Information and Broadcasting Sushma Swaraj to counter Modi’s claim of clashing interests.
Mouse House execs Disney claimed that the Disney Channel would operate as a pay web, which is distinct from selling Disney programming to free-to-air channels.
The Indian launch of the Disney Channel was planned for early 2003 with a proposed investment of $30 million. Disney had also proposed setting up an animation studio, a theme park and a publishing business.
The government’s intervention effectively cancels Disney’s plan to launch the channel — at least for the moment.