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contentSutra has learned from multiple sources that Bloomberg TV is also in talks with business news channel NDTV Profit for a potential branding and content partnership. We had first reported that Bloomberg TV was in talks with UTVi, the business news channel from Ronnie Screwvala-promoted UTV Software Communications Ltd, for a partnership that could potentially include an equity transaction as well.
Three people familiar with ongoing discussions confirmed the development, saying the talks have been on for a while and in early July, the two companies–NDTV and Bloomberg–even came close to reaching a deal. However, due to changes in the terms of Bloomberg’s discussions with UTVi, the discussions have had to renegotiate the grounds that had been covered earlier.
NDTV group CEO K.V.L. Narayan Rao said he could neither confirm nor deny the discussions. “We talk to a lot of people … It’s all very premature,” Rao said.
Bloomberg is understood to be seeking a deal involving the acquisition of an equity stake in the local partner. While this won’t be an issue with UTVi, there is little space in NDTV Ltd, of which NDTV Profit is a part, for anymore foreign equity. News companies can have a maximum of 26% foreign investment according to Indian laws. The deal the two companies got close to striking early July, however, was a purely content and branding deal.
A UTV spokesperson did not return a call for comment. A Bloomberg spokesperson declined comment.
A deal with Bloomberg–a globally leading provider of financial and business news and data–will be fiercely sought by both UTVi and NDTV Profit. While a potential deal could be a life saver for UTVi, which is currently at the bottom of the ratings chart and is losing ground to new entrant ET Now, NDTV Profit will want an extra edge in its battles with market leader CNBC TV18 and to ward off the fresh threats from ET Now, which has the backing of India’s largest pink paper, The Economic Times.
According to data from TAM Media Research, for the week ended 18 July, ET Now had a marketshare of 15% in the metros, while NDTV Profit had 22% and UTVi had 5%. Market leader CNBC TV18 has a long-term branding and content sharing arrangement with CNBC that is generally perceived to have helped the channel.