Saregama India Ltd is set to acquire a 10% equity stake in Timbre Media, the same company which provided music programming to satellite radio service WorldSpace, reports afaqs. The exact financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Following the investment, the two companies will tie-up to revive the WorldSpace brand in India, and relauch the same set of music channels dedicated to different genres of Indian music, including Jhankaar, Farishta and Gandharv for distribution via Internet, mobile and DTH platforms. While Timbre Media has acquired the exclusive license to use the WorldSpace brand, and will be handling music programming, Saregama will acts as the content provider and distributor for the radio stations.

The first channel from the alliance, is scheduled to be launched on the mobile platform in eight weeks, according to a company official. The company is currently in negotiations with various mobile service providers and are working on the pricing.

MediaNama readers would recall that WorldSpace had in fact tied-up with Microsoft India to start a paid online radio service in 2007 via MSN Radio. However, the service was pulled back since WorldSpace only had satellite radio rights, and content owners hadn’t licensed them digital (Internet and Mobile) rights. WorldSpace had also mentioned that the Government was finalizing a new satellite radio policy, which was resulting in a delay in re-launching the web service.

Will Mobile Radio Work in India?

Internet radio or mobile radio has so far met with limited success in the Indian market. Geodesic’s Mundu Radio is another mobile radio service, which in addition to native apps, has also been deployed by operators including Idea. Although, mobile operators and content providers would like you to believe that the launch of 3G has made it possible, the limited spectrum and high cost of data hinder the growth of multimedia on mobile. Try using internet radio apps like TuneIn radio over 3G while driving, and count the number of times it stutters.

Also, with a large number of handsets being equipped with FM radio receivers, which brings free, although ad-supported content, why would someone pay extra to get music. We do agree that the quality of music ( bit-rate wise) is certainly inferior, however higher bit-rates would imply in higher data use. So, unless telcos come out with an unlimited separate data plan for mobile radio and tv services, it is unlikely that the product will go mass. And this comes at a time when the rest of the World is hooked on to Pandora and Spotify. Why can’t we get a personalized radio service?


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