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Reliance Denies Selling News Media Business to Times Group

Earlier Bloomberg had reported that Mukesh Ambani “is in talks to sell his news media assets to India’s Times Group”

Updated
Business
2 min read
 File image of Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd. Earlier Bloomberg had reported that Mukesh Ambani “is in talks to sell his news media assets to India’s Times Group”.
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Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries on Thursday, 28 November, denied reports of selling its news media business to Times Group.

Earlier, Bloomberg had reported that Ambani “is in talks to sell his news media assets to India's Times Group, as Asia's richest man plans to unload a business that's been losing money.”

“Reliance Industries firmly denies (the) story. The story is baseless and false,” a company spokesperson said.

The report had quoted people familiar with the matter to say that Bennett Coleman & Co, the publisher of The Times of India, is looking to hire advisers for due diligence on the news properties of Ambani's Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.

Bennett Coleman's spokesperson couldn't be immediately reached for comments.

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Reliance had in 2014 bought Network18, which owns and operates 56 local channels spanning news and entertainment, for up to Rs 4,000 crore.

Network18 owns TV channels (including CNBCTV18, CNN-IBN, CNN Awaz), websites (firstpost.com, moneycontrol.com), magazines (including the license for Forbes India), entertainment channel (Colors and MTV) among other businesses.

Unlisted Bennett Coleman, also known as the Times Group, already has two news channels — Times Now (for general news) and ET Now (the business news channel) which compete with Network18's general news channel News18 and business news channel CNBCTV18.

TV18 Broadcast Ltd – the BSE-listed firm that houses the news channels – has a market cap of about Rs 4,100 crore. Promoters hold 60.40 percent interest in the company which had in the July-September quarter reported a net loss of Rs 1.03 crore. It had a profit of Rs 8.5 crore in 2018-19 fiscal.

Last month, Reliance in its consolidated earnings statement for the July-September quarter reported a Rs 47 crore pre-tax profit from its media business on a revenue of Rs 1,174 crore.

"Robust 43 percent growth in subscription income post-implementation of new tariff order (NTO) was offset by a weak advertising environment,” it had said. “News portfolio solidified its leadership with a 10.9 per cent viewership share. Broad-based cost optimisations led to Entertainment Business-as-usual (BAU) margins rising to 12.9 percent vs 9.9 percent in 2Q FY19.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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