Viacom Acquires 50 Percent Stake in Indian Networks Group for $153 Million

Philippe Dauman

Philippe Dauman, the CEO of Viacom, which, just like CBS Corp., is controlled by Sumner Redstone, received a compensation package worth $33.5 million for the company's fiscal year ended Sept. 30. That was a decline of 22 percent, but still allowed him to stay ahead of many of his peers.

The remaining 50 percent interest will continue to be owned by the Network18 Group, Viacom's partner in the Viacom18 joint venture.

Viacom, led by CEO Philippe Dauman, said Friday it has acquired a 50 percent stake in Prism TV Private Limited for approximately $153 million.

Prism TV owns and operates regional entertainment channels in India, including ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Oriya and ETV Gujarati, all of which were recently rebranded under the "Colors" umbrella brand.

The remaining 50 percent interest will continue to be owned by the Network18 Group, the entertainment conglomerate's partner in the Viacom18 joint venture.

"The deal gives Viacom a significant presence in the fast-growing regional TV sector in India, where almost 60 percent of the population of more than 1.2 billion people speak regional dialects as their first language," Viacom said. "Collectively, regional TV stations account for the second-largest share of viewing in the Indian market, behind only Hindi general entertainment channels."

"We're thrilled to be broadening our presence in one of the largest and fastest-growing TV markets in the world, and deepening our already strong partnership with Network18," said Dauman. "This acquisition is an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom's international growth strategy."

A. P. Parigi, group CEO of Network18, said: "I am confident India will emerge as a global entertainment powerhouse in the year ahead."

Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said: "Regional TV networks, and regional ad markets, are the next wave of growth in India. Having a strong national and broad regional presence gives us a powerful platform to launch additional brands, and introduce successful franchises and formats across India."

Twitter: @georgszalai