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Reliance ADA Group and Bertelsmann’s owned RTL terminate content JV

Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADA Group has terminated its content joint venture with European entertainment network RTL, part of the German multinational media company,Bertelsmann. Both companies had an equal 50% equity interest in the limited liability JV company, which was formed in 2011. RBNL is struggling with losses, and has recently delisted from the BSE.

The RTL Group had notified its Reliance Broadcast Network Limited of the termination of the joint venture agreement last quarter, and required RBNL to purchase all its shares in Big RTL. This transaction closed in June. Additionally, “On 15 July, Reliance Broadcast Network communicated that they intend to rebrand the action channel to Big Thrill as the brand “RTL” remains with RTL Group and cannot be used by the former partner in any future company.”

Note that RBNL also recently terminated its 50:50 JV with CBS Studios earlier this year, three years after the two media companies had partnered to launch TV Channels in the country. The JV had launched four channels: Big CBS Prime (Premium General Entertaiment Channel), Big CBS Love (for women) and Big CBS Spark (Music), apart from entering the regional channel space with Spark Punjabi.

RBNL reported (pdf) losses of Rs 31.08 crore on revenues of Rs 69.59 crore for the quarter ended 31st December 2013, the last quarter that it reported results. RBNL did not report results separately for the TV segment in the quarter, but for the quarter ending 30th September 2013 (pdf), it had reported TV segment revenues of Rs 8.66 crore, and an EBITDA loss of Rs 16.97 crore. In comparison, in the same quarter, the Radio segment reported revenues of Rs 49.8 crore and a profit of Rs 4.97 crore.

It’s key business, however, remains FM Radio 92.7 BIG FM, with 45 stations. Apart from this, it owns the TV channels BIG Magic, and TV production house BIG Productions.

RTL looks towards the rest of Asia

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RTL is now shifting its focus to Asia. An interesting statement from Andreas Rudas, Executive Vice President Regional Operations & Business Development CEE and Asia at RTL Group: “Since we launched Big RTL Thrill in 2012, we’ve always said that we’ve put a small, first flag into a new continent. India is a fascinating country with lots of opportunities – but it’s also a tough market, given its difficult political and regulatory environment. However, thanks to Big RTL Thrill we gained many insights into the Asian markets in a very short time frame and we met the colleagues from CBS Studios International with whom we launched RTL CBS Asia Entertainment network last year. It’s fair to say that without Big RTL Thrill there would be no venture with CBS Studios International for South East Asia. Clearly, RTL CBS Asia Entertainment Network has the bigger and more interesting potential for us.”

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