Star India to take over Maa TV

HYDERABAD: In an interesting development, Star India, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, announced its plans to acquire the entire broadcast business of Maa Television Network.

Although officials of Star India and Maa TV did not disclose the size of the deal, it was believed to be around Rs. 2000 crore to Rs. 2,500 crore. An agreement to take over by Star of Maa TV’s broadcast business was announced at a press conference here.

With its bouquet of four Telugu entertainment channels, Maa Cinema, Music, Gold and General Entertainment, Maa’s market share is ranked 16th in the country and the at the top in Andhra and in Telangana, according to Maa TV chairman Nimmagadda Prasad.

What is unique about the deal is the foray of an international brand into Telugu entertainment television. CEO of Star India Uday Shankar put this in perspective when he said that the company had been interacting with Maa TV groups for quite some time. ‘Telugu television market is the second largest but the pace of innovation is slow. We are trying to change this”, he said.

The CEO pointed out that the acquisition of Maa would fill a key gap in Star India’s portfolio, allowing advertisers to access to a critical market. Maa is said to have 27 per cent share in the Rs. 1,800 crore Telugu entertainment channel industry

Maa began its operations in 2002 but was acquired five years later by Mr. Nimmagadda Prasad, an industrialist who made hundreds of crores by selling his Matrix Labs. He has 65 per cent stake in Maa while actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and his relatives have 20 percent, actor Akkineni Nagarjuna 20 per cent and retail investors five per cent.

The deal will come into effect after complying with the regulatory formalities and the broadcast network of Maa TV, as well as its assets, will be integrated with STAR India’s business.

The company will remain with its original investors as they did not want to art with it. “Therefore, we will take over only the broadcast business. The Maa brand and other assets, including 500-odd employees will also come to STAR,” Mr. Shankar said.

 Mr. Prasad, when asked how he felt about hiving off a profitable company, said, “all good things must come to an end. It is just like how we love our daughter, but eventually we have to marry her off”.

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