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UTV, Sun in talks for Tamil movie channel

Ronnie Screwvala
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Ronnie Screwvala-promoted is close to partnering with Network for a Tamil movie channel. Sources say the two will form a joint venture under which UTV will dub movies from Hindi, English and other languages.

UTV will leverage on its existing movie titles it owns. However, the company will have to acquire dubbing rights.

Sources say the two companies haven’t yet signed on the dotted line. When contacted, UTV Broadcasting CEO said: “As a company, we are in talks with various companies for alliances. We are open to partnering with companies.” He, however, declined to comment on talks with Sun TV Network.

Sun Network is a leading entertainment company in the southern region with presence in television broadcasting, radio and direct-to-home (DTH) services. In the Tamil language, it already has entertainment channels Sun TV, K TV, Sun News, Sun Music, and Adithya.

The new movie channel will help Sun TV strengthen its bouquet further, say experts.

In the Tamil movies genre, currently there are just two channels — KTV and Raj Digital Plus. While KTV dominates with over 97 per cent channel share, the remaining is held by Raj Digital Plus.

The proposed alliance between UTV and Sun Network doesn’t come as a surprise as the market for Tamil movie channel has not yet been explored fully. Experts believe that with Bollywood and Hollywood movies being dubbed into Tamil, this will open the market further.

According to a recent report by consultancy firm Ernst & Young, the aggregate market size of the total South Indian film industry is estimated to be Rs 1,730 crore. In terms of overall revenues, the Telugu and Tamil segments account for approximately 45 per cent each.

On the other hand, revenues from cable and satellite television rights account for almost 17 per cent of the industry revenues. Medium and small-budget South Indian films depend significantly on the sale of cable and satellite television rights and can make the difference of a profit or loss situation for the film. “This is potential for UTV and Sun TV to earn a significant portion of revenue from Tamil movie channel,” said an industry expert.

UTV Broadcasting, the television wing of UTV, presently has four channels under its fold — a Hindi movie channel UTV Movies, world movie channel UTV World Movies, UTV Bindass Movies and business news channel UTV Bloomberg.

UTV has also been looking at consolidating its presence in the television space. UTV Bindass Movies will soon be pulled off air and on the same frequency an action movie channel ‘UTV Action’ will be launched. The channel will air action movies from Hollywood as well as Bollywood. The company plans to acquire a few more titles.

“In the next 12 to 15 months, all UTV channels will break even. UTV Movies already has broken even. By March 2010, the company will be cash-neutral,” said a company source.

UTV Movies ranks fourth in the Hindi and subtitle movies genre with a channel share between 9 and 10 per cent. UTV Bindass Movies is sixth with a share of almost 4 per cent. UTV World Movies has a channel share between 6 and 7 per cent and ranks sixth out of the seven English movie channels. In the English business news space, UTV Bloomberg comes third after CNBC TV18 and NDTV Profit with a share of around 11 per cent.

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