Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL), part of The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, and CBS Studios International, a division of CBS Corporation, have set up an equally owned joint venture company- BIG CBS Networks Pvt. Ltd, aiming at launching television channels in India. The channels will be English entertainment channels, customized for the Indian market and will premier in the 4th quarter 2010.

The Rs  265.5-billion Indian television market is estimated to have 134 million homes with televisions, of which 103 million have access to cable or satellite television, including DTH.  India is poised to become the world's largest direct-to-home satellite pay TV market by 2012, overtaking the US with a projected 35 million subscribers.

CBS and RBNL (through its subsidiary) will act as shareholders and each have a 50% equity interest in the JV company.  The three new English Channels will be made available across a network of digital and analog distribution platforms. They will also be offered to audiences across the Indian subcontinent covering India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan. The themed channels will be branded BIG CBS Prime, a premium English general entertainment channel, BIG CBS Spark, English youth channel and BIG CBS Love, women’s English entertainment channel, said the company statement.  In addition, the venture will also acquire content from third party suppliers and will consider producing original English language programming for the channels, in the future.

While BIG CBS will initially focus on the English language general entertainment channels, the joint venture may also explore the option of launching Hindi Language and Regional Language general entertainment channels along with other possible projects in the future.

The wide range of CBS content to be offered by the channels will include brand-new series such as ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ ‘The Defenders’  and ‘Blue Bloods,’ and current hits such as ‘NCIS,’ ‘Survivor,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘90210,’ ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight.’

The channels will also draw from 70,000 hours of content from CBS's vast program library, including the original “Melrose Place,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Frasier,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and “Charmed.” 

Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. said, “We are proud to announce our joint venture with CBS, America’s leading television broadcaster. This is truly a landmark moment not just for us but the entire Reliance ADA Group, with our first step into the television broadcasting space. We see great opportunity in the Indian television industry which projects high growth rate.”

Armando Nuez, President, CBS Studios International said,  “The vast programming, production and media resources of our two companies position us extremely well to serve audience, advertisers and all constituents of these new channels.  This is an exciting alliance with potential for amazing synergies and new opportunities for our companies in one of the world’s most dynamic business and media markets.”

The joint venture with Reliance in India marks CBS Studios International's second significant launch of international channels in key markets this year. Last September, CBS established a joint venture with Chello Media to launch a suite of CBS branded channels in the UK.  The company also has ownership interests in SCI FI and TV1, which are pay television channels in Australia.

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