STAR-Balaji Telefilms joint venture to launch regional language channels in South India

Mumbai: Balaji Telefilms Ltd has announced the setting up of a joint venture with STAR Group Ltd (STAR) to create a leading television network of regional language general entertainment channels, initially targeted at the fast growing South Indian market. The joint venture, 51-per cent owned by Star and 49-per cent by Balaji Telefilms, will be based in Chennai.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the board of directors of the company on April 19, Balaji Telefilm said in a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Under the joint venture, the two companies will combine their resources to infuse Vijay TV with the company content.

DirecTV, owned by Rupert Murdoch''s News Corporation, owns Vijay TV and broadcasts Star Plus, Star One, Star News and Vijay channels in the US market.

The joint venture also targets launching a Telugu channel by the last quarter of the year. Channels in Kannada, Malayalam and other key regional languages are planned for launch within the next two to three years.

Star, the leading television network in the Hindi market, will be responsible for the operations of the joint venture channels. Balaji, which has been creating top-rated shows in various languages for the past eight years, will produce regional language shows exclusively for the joint venture.

"We are excited about this opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Star. We believe that combining the expertise and resources of the two companies will enable us to create the leading regional language TV network in the country. This new partnership also helps realise our ambitions to go upstream by taking a stake in the broadcast business. I am confident that our investment in this joint venture will generate significant value for our stakeholders," Jeetendra Kapoor, chairman of Balaji Telefilms, said.

Shobha Kapoor, currently the managing director and chief executive of the company, has relinquished her role as CEO in favour of. R Karthik, currently president, strategy and business development. Mrs.Kapoor will continue as managing director and Karthik will be the CEO of the company, the release added.