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Viacom18 to conclude ETV channel takeover by year end

The acquisition of Eenadu TV's (ETV) regional general entertainment channels by Viacom18, the joint venture between Viacom of the US and India's Network 18 Group, is set for completion by the end of 2013.

Five regional channels are to be brought under the Viacom18 banner: ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla, ETV Gujarati and ETV Oriva, according to The Hindu. Their regional content will be new to the current programming aired by Viacom18 such as MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Colours and Comedy Central.

"Regional general entertainment markets are a fast growing segment. We intend to use a legacy brand such as ETV and contemporise it to gain market share," Ravish Kumar, executive vice president, Viacom18 and head of ETV Bangla and ETV Oriya, told The Hindu.

The news channels ETV Uttar Pradesh, ETV Madhya Pradesh, ETV Rajasthan, ETV Bihar and ETV Urdu will, however, reportedly stay with TV18 due to the 26% foreign equity restriction on news operations in India.

Viacom18 reportedly proposes to spend between INR700 million and INR1 billion per annum on developing region-specific content. This will include the regionalisation of reality shows, as well as new fiction and non-fiction programmes. Three new Bengali TV shows are currently in progress for ETV, including a Bengali version of the global hit format Big Boss – known elsewhere in the world as Big Brother.

Kumar says the company hopes to break even within three to four years.

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