NDTV, E.W. Scripps In Talks For Strategic Partnership In Lifestyle Business

Broadcaster NDTV Ltd and U.S.-based E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) Co. are in talks for a strategic partnership in the lifestyle broadcasting business in India, a person familiar with the situation said. If a deal materializes, this will be the first venture in India for Scripps and the second international partner for NDTV (after NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) in the entertainment business).

According to our source, Scripps will come in as an equity partner in NDTV Lifestyle Ltd, which broadcasts NDTV Good Times. The company will also launch another channel in a specific lifestyle genre in India with Scripps.

“We do not comment on speculation,” NDTV CEO K.V.L. Narayan Rao (pictured) said.

NDTV is understood to be in talks with Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE: SNI), a division that was spun off from E.W. Scripps Co. last year. The properties under Scripps Networks Interactive, which sports the tagline ‘The Leader In Lifestyle Media’, include, among others, Home & Garden TV, Food Network and Fine Living Network.

Under Indian laws, there is no cap on foreign direct investment into a non-news broadcasting company.

At the time of writing, a spokesperson from Scripps Networks Interactive did not respond to an email requesting comment. He was also unreachable on telephone.

NDTV Good Times was launched in September 2007. The title ‘Good Times’ comes from a five-year branding deal with billionaire Vijay Mallya’s UB Group, which advertises its Kingfisher brand of beer as “The King Of Good Times’. The channel’s logo also features a Kingfisher bird.

E.W. Scripps runs newspapers in 14 American markets and operates ten television stations. Other prominent American media firms such as *News Corp.*, *Viacom Inc.*, NBC Universal, *Time Warner*, Bloomberg, *Sony Corp.*, *The Walt Disney Co.*, etc., have a presence in India either through equity stakes or content partnerships.

(Trivia: Scripps sponsors the highly competitive National Spelling Bee championship in the US that has seen seven Indian-American winners in the last ten years and much press coverage marveling at the fact.)