Reliance Broadcast inks deal with CBS Studios for slew of TV channels

Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBN), an Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company, plans to forge a 50:50 joint venture with CBS Studios International - a unit of the US based media conglomerate CBS Corp - to launch a series of television channels in India.

The joint venture is a first for both CBS Studios International and Reliance Broadcast Network, known until last week as Reliance Media World, as they try to tap India's fast-growing TV viewership.

The companies signed a preliminary, non-binding agreement on Sunday to establish a 50-50 joint venture to operate a portfolio of TV channels and hope to close the deal within a month, RBN said in a 20 June letter to Indian stock exchanges.

They would begin with an English language general entertainment channel that would distribute primarily existing CBS content via cable or direct-to-home satellite broadcasting and later explore owning or operating channels in Hindi and other regional languages, the company said.

CBS's hit shows include "CSI", "America's Next Top Model" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show," but Reliance spokesman Gaurav Rahi told The Associated Press on Monday that it was too early to say which shows would be picked for India broadcast.

The venture would have programming rights across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, with the potential for further expansion.