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FIPB Update: Cellcast Launching Three New Channels; Network18 & Netmagic

The Indian Government has approved 22 proposals of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) valued approximately at Rs. 586.137 crore based on the recommendation of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Among the Internet, Mobile and Media companies which has received approvals from the FIPB include:

Cellcast Interactive India Pvt. Ltd: CellCast, a Canaan partners funded interactive services company, has received approval to undertake additional activities to set up three non-news and current affairs television channels in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu in the country, although there is no new cash inflow. Cellcast does interactive television shows for different television channels, which is integrated with mobile value added services, charging premium rates for messaging and accessing voice portals on mobile.

It had claimed to have over 5 million monthly unique users on its properties and had launched its first Interactive channel MyTV on DTH, by partnering with Airtel and Reliance in December 2011. The channel was expected to air shows pertaining to astrology, matrimony, dating, auctions, interactive shopping, contests, and gameshows like Tambola. The company claimed to have over 25 gameshow formats and had hoped to reach 30% of the Hindi speaking market by Q1 2012.

Interestingly, Cellcast had stated that there would be no dedicated ad spots in the channel since the brands would be integrated into the content itself. Further, Cellcast would distribute its channels only through DTH and CAS mandated areas, given that cable digitization is expected to happen by June 30, 2o12. In Jan 2012,  Cellcast PLC had offloaded its majority stake in Cellcast Asia Holdings (CAH) to two private equity firms, although no formal announcement was made in this regard. In addition, CAH had also raised $9.5 million in a fresh round of funding from Vertex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings and had said that it was in active discussions with everyone who has a digital headend to distribute its channel.

Network 18 Media & Investment Ltd: Network18 had sought to undertake the additional business of publishing business following the court’s approval of amalgamation of its publishing business from Infomedia18. It has now been approved by the government.

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Among other proposals, the government has yet again deferred Netmagic Solutions’ proposal to increase the foreign equity up to 74% and bring in a new foreign collaborator to undertake the business of Internet Service Provider with gateways. The government had previously deferred Netmagic’s proposal in January 2011.

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