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Zee buys nets as Reliance exits general ents TV

Zee Entertainment Enterprises has acquired a pair of channels from Indian compatriot Reliance Capital, confirming the latter’s exit from general entertainment broadcasting.

Sam GhoshThe agreement hands Indian broadcaster Zee the Big Magic and Big Ganga networks, plus hour other TV licences.

Big Magic is a comedy channel for the Hindi-speaking markets, while Big Ganga is a Bhojpuri entertainment network for audiences in Bihar, Jharkhand and Purvanchal.

Both are distributed on India’s major cable and direct-to-home platforms, and will sit alongside networks such as Zee TV, &tv, Zee Action, Zee Classic, and Zing, and a host of regional channels, in the ZEE portfolio.

Reliance Big Broadcasting Private Limited, Big Magic Limited and Azalia Broadcast Private Limited, which are all part of Anil Ambani’s sprawling conglomerate Reliance Group, currently own the channels and TV licences.

“We are happy to divest 100 per cent of our general entertainment TV business to Zee Entertainment,” said Reliance Capital CEO and executive director Sam Ghosh (pictured). “This transaction is part of our strategy to reduce exposure in non-core businesses and work towards further reducing debt under Reliance Capital.”

The agreement is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, but is expected to close in the second half of next year. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

Another branch of Zee’s business, Zee Media Corporation, is also acquiring a 49% stake in Reliance Broadcast Network’s radio business, 92.7 Big FM.

ZEE has been pushing into the international market this year, expanding channels distribution in markets such as the US, and hiring well-known programmes sales execs such as Janice Strangward and Sarah Coursey to bolster sales of its 222,000-hour catalogue.

Reliance Capital is part of Reliance Group, which is one of the investors in the Steven Spielberg-fronted Amblin Partners. It is linked to but separate from Reliance Industries, which owns a majority stake in Network18, the Indian broadcasting business that houses Viacom joint venture group Viacom18.