No plans to sell news channels: TV18 Broadcast

TV18’s news channels

Rahul Joshi, Managing Director of TV18, today said his company has no plans to sell its news business.

“We’ve outrightly denied any such story in news. In news, the group remains absolutely committed to grow the business.

“As you’ve seen, we’ve committed so much investments in digital, on television. So there’s no question of getting out of it. We’ve firmly, strongly denied it,” he said, participating in a post-results discussion CNBC-TV18, his company’s business news channel.

The comments came in the context of reports that TV18 Broadcast was planning to rejig its broadcasting business, with news channels going to the Times of India group and the entertainment channels to be moved to a company controlled by Japan’s Sony Corp. Joshi was careful to clarify that he was talking about the news side of the business.

According to a recent report by Gaurav Laghate in Economic Times, TV18 is likely to pool its entertainment channels — currently housed under its joint venture with US-based ViacomCBS — under a new company in which Sony will hold a 51% stake.

The remaining stake will be held by TV18 and, indirectly, by ViacomCBS, according to the report.

Joshi did not comment on this part of the speculation.

TV18’s entertainment channels

TV18 Broadcast was originally owned and controlled by entrepreneur Raghav Bahl.

However, it was taken over by Reliance Industries, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, after his group converted some of its debt to equity.

Bahl, who was ejected soon after, has been trying to get back into the TV broadcasting business, but has found his way blocked by the central government.

Earlier today, TV18 Broadcast reported a 3% decline in its third-quarter revenue due to a sharp decline in advertising sales.

The company’s non-subscription revenue — mostly composed of advertising sales — fell by Rs 181 cr (16%) in October-December of 2019 compared to the same quarter of 2018. However, subscription revenues increased by Rs 131 cr.

Despite the disappointing revenue performance, the company’s operating profit jumpe to Rs 226 cr from Rs 62 cr a year earlier due to cost cutting in the entertainment channels.