Raghav Bahl, Bloomberg ink deal to launch news channel, website
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Raghav Bahl, founder of Quintillion Media Pvt. Ltd that operates news website thequint.com, has signed a joint venture agreement with New York-based Bloomberg LP to launch a co-branded television news channel and website, a person close to the development said.
Bahl and Bloomberg, the eponymous business information and media company controlled by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, will together invest Rs.100 crore in the venture. Bahl will own a 74% stake and Bloomberg the remaining 26%. The agreement is for a 10-year period.
“The term sheets have been signed; the final deal will be closed later this week,” said the person cited above. “The initial investment of Rs.100 crore should be enough for a successful launch but in case more capital is required we will do the needful.”
The launch of the Bloomberg-Quint TV channel and a website of the same name will be announced formally later this month in the presence of top management from the Bloomberg Media Group in Mumbai.
“I am afraid we have to decline to comment,” Bloomberg said in an e-mail sent in response to a query from Mint.
The venture marks Bahl’s return to the broadcast sector he left when Reliance Industries Ltd in May 2014 took complete control of his Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd by converting its debentures in the media group into shares. Bahl walked away with around Rs.700 crore.
Quintillion Media doesn’t have a non-compete agreement with Network18 Media.
“Raghav Bahl was a traditional media veteran who transformed himself into a digital entrepreneur. Investing money back in traditional media will be interesting to see,” said Smita Jha, leader of the entertainment and media practice at the Indian unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Bloomberg-Quint in India will face competition from other business news channels such as CNBC-TV18 from Network 18; ET NOW, which is part of Times Television Network; and NDTV Profit, run by New Delhi Television Ltd.
Menaka Doshi, executive editor at CNBC-TV18, is likely to become managing editor and Anil Uniyal, chief executive at CNBC TV18, will likely assume the same role at Bloomberg-Quint, said the person cited above.
Repeated calls and text messages sent to Doshi and Uniyal were not answered.
The Bloomberg-Quint website is expected to go live in the next three months while the news channel will be launched after the company acquires an uplinking licence from the ministry of information and broadcasting, added the person.
In January, Bloomberg exited its licensing agreement with Business Broadcast News Pvt. Ltd, a part of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, for Bloomberg TV India after seven years.
Broadcast News and Bloomberg said that they would not extend their media licensing agreement, under which Bloomberg TV had been aired in India, beyond 31 March, ending a seven-year-old partnership.
Bloomberg Television India reaches 30 million households in the country.
Bahl’s Quintillion Media was launched in January last year; the news website focused on mobile devices and went live in March.
TheQuint.com currently employs about 150 people across the editorial, technology and management functions.
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