Reliance, RTL Group Plan Joint Venture for English, Local-Language Channels

Reliance hopes to follow-up its JV with CBS with the Bertelsmann broadcaster.

NEW DELHI -- Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group and Reliance Broadcast Networks are planning first to launch English-language channels in India, followed by local language outlets.

Reliance Broadcast Networks Ltd. and Europe-headquartered RTL Group have proposed to establish an equal joint venture, for two English entertainment TV channels, one based on reality shows with the other being an action-based channel. The JV will also target regional and Hindi channels in the long term.

RBNL recently bowed an equal joint venture with CBS Inc. -- Big CBS -- that unfurled two English entertainment channels, with a third youth-oriented channel in the pipeline.

Parent company the Reliance Group already has licenses for 20 channels expected to be launched through RBNL.

For the proposed joint venture with RTL, RBNL has so far only officially informed the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange. When contacted by The Hollywood Reporter, an RBNL spokesperson said that an official announcement on the joint venture is expected to be made “in time” without giving a date.

RBNL has signed a preliminary, non-binding term sheet with RTL Group for the proposed joint venture that will allow access to content from RTL Group’s FremantleMedia production unit.

With a market cap of US$15.5 billion, RTL owns 40 television channels and 33 radio stations in 10 countries and is one of the world’s leading producers of television content such as popular formats Idols, Got Talent, The X Factor, Good Times -- Bad Times and Family Feud.

Fremantle already has a strong India presence with successful local versions of its global formats such as Indian Idol and India's Got Talent.