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NewsCorp Takes Over VCCircle, Star India Acquires Screen, Maa TV

Murdoch-owned News Corp has set its eyes wide on Indian emerging news networks and VC Circle, one of the most successful ventures in business domains, has attracted their attention after similar takeovers in entertainment sector like Screen and MaaTV.

The company did not disclose the sum paid to acquire VCCircle that was established in mid-2000s and has been among the front ranks of investment-related online media outlets.

The Noida-based VCCircle Network is owned by P.V. Sahad, a former JNU scholar and business journalist whose Mosaic Media Ventures has more than 80 journalists under the VC Circle brand that includes a tech-news portal and VCCEdge, an M&A data base. More than the portals, VC Circle is known for holding regular seminars and symposiums for industry-specific forums.

“Our team has understood the demands of the market and performed well over the years,” said Sahad…It is a win-win for both of us. The acquisition process will be completed soon,” said PV Sahad. Now that it is taken over by News corp, Sahad and his team will merge with News Corp’s India team.

Sahad will report to News Corp senior-vice president (strategy) Raju Narisetti, said News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson, in an annoucement.


Sahad PV

VC Circle Founder P. V. Sahad

“India is an increasingly meaningful part of our portfolio, which is itself increasingly digital and global…This important investment is a sign of our faith in India’s future and our enthusiasm for working with and building up emerging talents in the country.”

However, Raju Narisetti, former Mint Editor, is not avaialble for comment. Murdoch’s NewsCorp had acquired Indian firm BigDecisions.com based in Mumbai, early this year and it was announced that more acquisitions in India was on the list of the company.

Prior to it, NewsCorp acquired 25% stake in online real-estate portal, PropTiger.com for $30 Million. Robert Thomson explained NewsCorp strategy to provide a platform that can deliver unbiased information and analysis to consumers on topics ranging from life and health insurance and retirement planning to providing for a child’s education or buying and renting real estate.

“Our latest investment builds on our abiding belief that a digital India needs more trusted, reliable and independent data,” said Thomson while acquiring Bigdecisions.

News Corp’s other operations in India include Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, Factiva and HarperCollins Publishers.

NewsCorp is on a spree of acquiring key domains in financial sphere and it owns Move, which runs the realtor.com website in US. NewsCorp also owns a 61.6% stake in REA Group Limited, which operates a major Australian residential property website, realestate.com.au.

News Corp, which has bifurcated its visual medium Star TV three years ago has major presence in Indian television industry with its StarPlus and Starsports and Fox TV, besides financing films of Bollywood, with their CEO Uday Shankar.

The news media in India is under Raju Narisetti, the former MINT editor. Both Uday Shankar and Narisetti were from the 1988-89 batch of the Times School of Social Journalism.

Star India’s acquisition of age-old “Screen” magazine covering film and entertainment industry for six decades may entail the company to take over famous Screen Awards in Bollywood as it is going to stop the print edition immediately. Screen’s last edition will hit the stand this weekend and it currently circulates 15,000 copies.

Now, it will be part of Star India’s HotStar initiative. “With Screen coming to Hotstar we can set the ball rolling for the next phase of greater eyeball consumption in the entertainment genre…  The brand will go fully digital in the next few weeks,” said Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, Star India.

Hotstar is a mobile application offering more than 35,000 hours of content in 7 languages, with movies, TV shows and live sports and the deal is estimated to be in the range of Rs.30 crore to Rs.40 crore, according to an estimate by Mint without official confirmation from Star India.

Last month, Star India acquired Telugu television channel Maa TV as part of its largest acquisition in India, in a deal estimated to be in excess of Rs.2,000 crore. Prior to this, star India had no presence in Telugu language though two states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and parts of neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have Telugu speaking population.

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