Viacom forges India alliance

Paramount, DreamWorks fare to take root

Viacom is taking a huge step into India, entering into a joint venture with the country’s TV18 Group for film and TV production and distribution.

The venture, Viacom-18, will see the two companies launch a general-entertainment cable net featuring original local programming.

The two will also partner on Hindi-language film production, acquisition and distribution, a business in which TV18 is already very active.

Execs said the partnership also enables Paramount and DreamWorks to increase their presence in the country.

While the agreement only provides a framework for Indian expansion, company said that the studio will “explore additional opportunities for collaboration with Viacom-18” in the coming months.

Par/DreamWorks have a separate distribution agreement in India for their movies.

Viacom’s cable nets in the country, MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon India, will also come under the deal. Other niche channels could be launched as part of the venture.

And finally, as part of the deal, the two firms will take joint ownership of management banner the Indian Film Co.

In an interview, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said that the goal is to partner on locally produced content as well as export both traditional and digital Viacom properties to the subcontinent.

“We’re really trying to bring together the best of the networks we have here with the film production that TV18 has there,” he said.

News comes on the heels of comments from Viacom’s Sumner Redstone in which he cautioned the Chinese government against overly regulating foreign congloms, telling the Asia Society last week that expansion “will only be possible if the governments of Asia, and China in particular, honor these long-term partnerships and maintain consistent and open markets.”

While Dauman said China remains a viable candidate for expansion, he noted that India offers an advantage over other territories.

“India is a fast-growing market, and it’s very hospitable to these kinds of ventures,” he said.

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