India's Richest Man Among Backers of New Channel Epic TV

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries and India's richest individual.

Mukesh Ambani will own 25 percent of the network, which will be led by a former Walt Disney India executive and offer content based on Indian folklore and mythology.

NEW DELHI – India’s richest man, industrialist Mukesh Ambani, is among the main backers behind the upcoming channel Epic TV, according to local reports. Due to debut next month and headed by former Walt Disney India managing director Mahesh Samat, Epic TV will have contemporary content based on Indian history, folklore and mythology.

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Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries with an estimated personal wealth of $21.5 billion, has reportedly taken a 25 percent-plus stake in the group via his company Reliance Ports & Terminals. This is his second broadcasting venture; he already owns a stake in the diversified Network18 Group, which runs various channels including CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN. As part of a joint venture with Viacom Inc., Network 18 also has leading Hindi entertainment outlet Colors, MTV India and VH1.

Ambani is the elder brother of Anil Ambani, who heads DreamWorks' equal partner Reliance Entertainment, owned by his R-ADAG conglomerate, which has interests in telecom and other businesses.

While none of the parties has commented on Epic TV, according to reports, a Reliance Industries spokesperson confirmed the development and said the investment by Mukesh Ambani is “in his personal capacity.”

Another of India's leading industrialists, Anand Mahindra -- who heads conglomerate Mahindra Group -- also holds a reported 25 percent stake in the Epic TV venture. With interests in a variety of businesses -- from automobiles to leisure and hospitality -- the Mahindra Group also runs media and entertainment offshoot Mumbai Mantra. The company's projects include a partnership with the Sundance Institute, which runs an annual screenwriters lab to aid upcoming talent.