FUSE+Media, an affiliate of international venture fund ComVentures, has invested Rs50.96 crore for a 19.17% stake in Independent News Services Pvt Ltd, the company that runs 24x7 Hindi news channel India TV. The transaction values the company that was launched in 2004 at Rs250 crore, and is the latest in a rash of investments by financiers in Indian media.
India TV chairman Rajat Sharma and managing director Ritu Dhawan, who co-founded the company around three years ago, will sell a portion of their stake to the venture capital (VC) firm. They have sought regulatory permission to appoint the chief executive officer of FUSE+Media, Keyur Patel, to the company’s board.
Independent News intends to launch channels for the international market soon and the investment raised will be used to fund that expansion. The company plans to launch two new regional language channels in Punjabi and Gujarati, in the US and the UK this year. It also intends to turn its Indian news channel completely interactive.
“We have the first-mover advantage. We’ve been involving viewers (in our daily programming) for the last six months. We’ve now decided to make it an interactive news channel. It’s a competitive space,” said Sharma.
India has a particularly crowded news channel market. There are more than 38 channels in English and local languages, including 15 in Hindi alone.
Patel, also a partner at ComVentures, said he was convinced that India TV would grow rapidly in the near future. He believed that with the new investment, shows like “Aap Ki Adalat and Breaking News will now leverage Rajat Sharma’s unique connect with the diaspora and propel India TV into the global orbit”.
In January, Nimbus Communications Ltd received Rs552 crore in funding from a consortium of investors, including 3i. Later that month, the Blackstone Group invested Rs1,203 crore in Ushodaya Enterprises (the publisher of Eenadu) for a 26% stake in the media and film production company.