NDTV-Hindu in sale talks with Tamil daily

NDTV-Hindu in sale talks with Tamil daily

Chennai: Tamil daily Dina Thanthi is one of the three or four prospective buyers interested in NDTV-Hindu Media Ltd’s struggling Chennai-centric television channel, a top NDTV-Hindu executive said.

“Yes, they are one of the people we are talking to," said Pranav Bakshi, business head of NDTV-Hindu when asked if the Dina Thanthi had evinced interest in buying the two-year-old, loss-making channel. “We have about three-four people (interested in buying.) That’s about it at this stage."

Bakshi declined to name other interested investors.

The Dina Thanthi, a 69-year-old Tamil daily owned by B. Sivanthi Adityan, has been one of the leading newspapers in Tamil Nadu for the last five decades with a circulation of more than 1.4 million copies a day. Adityan remained unavailable for comment despite several phone calls to his office.

N. Ram, editor-in-chief of The Hindu, declined to comment stating that the details were being handled by NDTV.

No timeline has been fixed for the deal, but talks with investors are on, added Bakshi.

NDTV-Hindu, a local news channel, doesn’t have much going for it, said a Mumbai-based analyst. “The only thing this channel comes with is an operational licence, which is something people looking to launch immediately would want, as it takes anywhere between 6-18 months to get a licence if you apply today," added this person who did not want to be identified.

New Delhi Television Ltd has a 51% stake in NDTV-Hindu with the remaining 49% with Kasturi and Sons, publisher of The Hindu and The Hindu Business Line. The venture has made losses since its May 2009 launch, people with knowledge of the financials had said in June. The joint venture has lost at least 20 crore so far. In the June story, Mint had reported the likely sale or closure of the channel by August.

A person familiar with the matter and who did not want to be identified said that the Dina Thanthi could, if it buys the channel, produce Tamil language programmes for it (NDTV-Hindu is an English channel).

NDTV Ltd ended the three months to June with a loss of 17.98 crore. It lost 173.9 crore in 2010-11. Shares of NDTV closed up 13.64% at 56.65 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The benchmark Sensex fell 0.2% to 17,065.15 points.

Mint and the Hindustan Times, published by HT Media Ltd, compete in some markets with The Hindu and TheHindu Business Line.