Disney eyes India TV

Studio backs new English-language channel

In a deal that expands the growing relationship between Disney and UTV, Disney-ABC Intl. Television (Asia Pacific) will play a key role in the imminent launch of UTVi, an English-language business channel in India backed by UTV Software Communications.

Disney last year bought UTV’s kids channel Hungama. It is raising its stake in UTV Software Communications to 32% from its previous 14.85% at a price of $200 million and is paying $30 million for a 15% stake in UTV Global Broadcasting.

“This gives us an excellent opportunity to provide our reporting to the people of South Asia, as well as to enhance our coverage of news in the region,” ABC News prexy David Westin said. “We also plan to work with our new colleagues at UTVi to create news programs and bulletins combining the expertise of both organizations.”

“The English business news segment reflects a huge opportunity,” UTV Software Communications topper Ronnie Screwvala said. “Our tie up with ABC News will bring international perspective and add that cutting edge that our viewers will want from a well-rounded business channel.”

Govindraj Ethiraj is the channel’s editor-in-chief, Arun Anant is CEO and Sumit Gupta is chief operating officer.

Trio suggest that the net will be aimed at young Indian entrepreneurs and aim to reach beyond stock market reporting. It will be low on jargon and throw in plenty of career and lifestyle items.

“UTVi will be India’s most powerful, interactive news and information network. We will connect real-time news through multiple platforms like television, Web and mobile,” Anant said.

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