Companies

Sony to leverage MSM to get back into Hindi movie biz

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2013

Man Jit Singh, CEO, MSM India

We will be pushing a slate of movies either through co-productions, our own productions or working with independent producers.





With capital no longer a constraint, Multi Screen Media India has revived interest in film production and will look into launching new channels.

Man Jit Singh, CEO, MSM India, who is also serving as the President of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) said, with Sony becoming a majority shareholder in MSM, funds will no longer be an issue. In the past, there were some capital constraints to fund new initiatives with the presence of the Indian partners – Grandway Global Holdings Ltd and Atlas Equifin Private Ltd. But, the majority stake now gives Sony a clear hand in pursuing those initiatives.

MSM’s parent Sony Pictures Television recently got FIPB nod to increase its stake in the Indian subsidiary to 94 per cent.

On when will the parent acquire the remaining (6 per cent) share that will make MSM 100 per cent owned by Sony, he said, “The balance 6 per cent is with another fund and we would look at it at a separate stage. For now, Sony has got the approval to have 94 per cent stake in MSM.”

The company has already signed its first co-production deal with Eros to produce a movie. “We believe movie business is an attractive business and we will be pushing a slate of movies either through co-productions, our own productions or working with independent producers. We have signed the first movie with Eros, and we are in the process of finalising two additional movies as we want to make Hindi movie production as another significant separate portion of our business, which will be run independently by MSM at the local level,” said Singh.

Sony had earlier experimented with Hindi movie production, though it was not very successful. The company had produced Ranbir Kapoor’s debut movie Sawaariya, which failed to sizzle at the box office.

Asked about the largely unsuccessful attempt of Hollywood studios to make Indian films, Singh said, “There have been some successes. The essential thing is that local production and local films needs to be handled locally rather than from Hollywood.”

The company is also looking to strengthen its presence in the regional language broadcasting, a space which has become competitive now. “We acquired a Bengali movie channel. But the market became competitive with GECs too showing movies to get audience, which made the Bengali movie market fragmented. We have in fact now moved to a mixed model with both general entertainment and movie content,” he said.

The company is also in the process of buying stake in Maa TV and will focusing on increasing penetration in the southern markets through new channel launches or acquisitions.

IPL

Talking about the sixth season of Indian Premier League, Singh said the channel has got a good response from the advertisers. “We are seeing far greater buoyancy in the advertising market compared to last year. And we expect the television ratings for IPL to start rising again,” he added.

With digitisation being implemented in the country, the industry expects carriage fee to get rationalised in the next 2-3 years and increase subscription revenues and that Singh believes would be the right time to launch niche channels. He said MSM India will look at launching a Hindi channel in the action and adventure space.

Singh said that the industry is further ahead in the second phase of digitisation compared to first phase in terms of penetration of set-top boxes. Television players also believe that having regulations on the amount of time on advertising on television, should only be put once, subscription revenues become a reality post digitisation and their dependence on advertising revenues reduces.

> Meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 12, 2013

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