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Home > Business > Special

Sameer Manchanda: TV's 24x7 dealmaker

Bipin Chandran | November 07, 2005

Getting Time Warner to partner with a TV channel that's yet to be launched, especially when some of India's largest broadcasting and media companies were waiting to be asked, has to be a feather in anyone's cap. More so since this is the first time CNN is actually agreeing to share its brand with a broadcaster anywhere in Asia.

Yet, for the 43-year-old Sameer Manchanda who's a fellow of the Institute for Chartered Accountants of India, it was one of a series of coups he's pulled off, for employers in the past, but this time around for a company of which he's a promoter as well.

Manchanda, along with fellow NDTV colleague and star anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, and CNBC TV18, floated Global Broadcast News some months ago; the deal which GBN signed with Time Warner on October 26 allows it to have access to CNN's breaking news as well as key feature programmes.

Closely associated with Prannoy Roy's NDTV since its inception in 1988, Manchanda was widely seen as the man behind the profitable deal NDTV had with Rupert Murdoch for years -- Murdoch paid NDTV a flat sum per year while NDTV exercised all editorial control.

Indeed, it was after years of this arrangement, when Murdoch wanted to exercise editorial control over the content that NDTV was producing, that the Murdoch-Roy tie up came to an end. After this, Manchanda also worked on the deal with BBC, which got NDTV to produce a special India-programme for the British broadcaster.

After the break up with Murdoch, Manchanda was the man who helped Roy line up investments for his own broadcasting venture. By all accounts, he did a good job in helping his boss raise over Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) from the public, before he decided to strike out on his own.

In some ways, the CNN deal has features in common with the Murdoch-Roy one. Time Warner does not hold any equity stake in India Broadcast News (the name of the channel), but in return for a royalty payment, IBN gets to use CNN's logo as well as feed -- the channel will be co-branded CNN-IBN.

For Manchanda, however, the going could prove to be a lot tougher this time around as the news broadcast industry has undergone a sea change in the last six years.

Now, there are around 12 channels fighting for both viewer eyeballs as well as for the ad pie. Besides, GBN itself is planning to launch more channels in the general news space.

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