Network18 Media & Investments Limited, referred to as Network18 Group, is an Indian media conglomerate owned by Reliance Industries. Since a restructuring in 2020, it is now the parent company of TV18, DEN Networks and Hathway Cable and Datacom. Network18 holds 37.3% stake in GTPL Hathway and a majority stake in Hathway Bhawani through its ownership of Hathway. It is also the majority owner of Viacom 18, a joint venture with ViacomCBS.
|Headquarters||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Rahul Joshi (MD)|
|Revenue||₹5,392 crore (US$760 million) (2020)|
|₹427 crore (US$60 million) (2020)|
|₹104 crore (US$15 million) (2020)|
|Total assets||₹8,615 crore (US$1.2 billion) (2020)|
Number of employees
The group was founded and majority owned by Raghav Bahl Ritu Kapur and Sanjay Ray Chaudhuri in 1993, after India liberalised its economy and media ownership laws in early 1990s. In the 2000s, the Group grew into one of the largest collection of media properties in India through debt financing and international licensing deals with global media brands. By late 2011, according to a LiveMint article, the Network18 group had amassed a large debt, was running in loss and banks were unwilling to lend the group additional capital. Bahl's Network18 group sought capital from the Reliance Industries in 2012, then closed loss-making ventures, laid off employees, and trimmed the size of the Group over the next two years. On 29 May 2014, under the terms of its 2012 financing, Reliance Industries took over the Network18 empire to integrate it with its 4G, Jio wireless content-distribution strategy. The Group's leadership team is headed by chairperson Adil Zainulbhai and managing director Rahul Joshi in 2019.
At its peak, the Network18 Group has included media and internet-based media outlets such as in.com, IBNlive, Moneycontrol, Firstpost, Cricketnext, Homeshop18, bookmyshow.com, print magazines such as Forbes India and Overdrive, TV channels such as Colors and some in partnership with international media groups such as NBC, CNN, IBN7, MTV, Nickelodeon, and CNBC. According to Network18 Group's 2018 annual report, it had 700 million (700 million) viewers, and 20 television channels in 15 Indian languages.
1996–2005: SGA Finance and Management ServicesEdit
SGA Finance and Management Services was incorporated on 16 February 1996, as a private limited company by Geeta and Rakesh Gupta and acquired soon afterwards by Vidya Devi and Anil Jindal. It was acquired by the promoters of TV18 in 2003. The company was dilated with batches of funding over the following years and converted into a media company, and later into the holding company for TV18. Network18 is sometimes considered to have been founded in 1993, being the same year TV18 was incorporated.
TV18 had become a public limited company in 1999 and initiated an IPO which was oversubscribed beyond the investment target at a magnitude of over 50 times. The company had raising ₹2,511 crore (equivalent to ₹87 billion or US$1.2 billion in 2019) by December and in the process, the promoters had lost their dominant shareholding of more than 51%. The uplinking guidelines of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting required a venture to have a single dominant Indian investor while between 1999 and 2002, the shareholding fell from 75% to 26.11%. Unable to fulfil the requirement, the company had shifted its broadcasting operations for the Indian market to a subsidiary based in Mauritius. SGA Finance was acquired by the promoters to mitigate this complication.
SGA Finance had a capital base of ₹25 lakh (equivalent to ₹74 lakh or US$100,000 in 2019) during the time of the acquisition. The promoters of TV18 infused the company with two batches of equity investment in March 2003 and January 2004, bringing the paid up capital of the company the sum of ₹5 crore (equivalent to ₹14 crore or US$2.0 million in 2019). At the time, TV18 was in the process of launching a Hindi business news channels called CNBC Awaaz, in a joint venture with CNBC. Subsequently, SGA Finance incorporated a subsidiary called SGA News which was granted the mandate of launching the news channel. In order to provide funding for the launch and operation of the news channel, TV18 subscribed to preference shares of the new company with an investment worth ₹25 crore (equivalent to ₹71 crore or US$10 million in 2019) in 2004 and made another investment of ₹39.1 crore (equivalent to ₹107 crore or US$15 million in 2019) for equity shares in the following year.
In 2003, the government introduced a 26% foreign equity cap in the news broadcasting industry, which led to the conversion of the partnership with CNBC towards a franchising relationship. CNBC Awaaz was launched in the same year, and SGA Finance retained a 92% stake in SGA News after TV18 made its investment in equity shares.
2005–2011: Restructuring, partnerships and expansionEdit
In April 2006, the name was changed from SGA Finance and Management Services Private Limited to Network18 Fincap Private Limited and subsequently in November 2006, it was converted into a public limited company. Network18 got listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange on 2 February 2007. The shares of the company of face value of ₹5 each opened at ₹312.10 at the NSE and at ₹300 at the BSE. The same year in December, its name was changed from Network18 Fincap Limited to Network18 Media & Investments Limited.
The Network 18 Group announced a restructuring plan to create a two listed entity structure for the group in July 2010. The restructuring became effective on 10 June 2011 with the approval of the Delhi High Court and the group successfully completed the re-alignment of its business operation into 2 sections – Network18 and TV18. Network18 undertakes the digital and publishing side of the business and TV18 contains the television assets of the group.
2011–2014: Takeover by Mukesh AmbaniEdit
In Jan 2012, there was a large investment by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries in a complex deal that offered a possibility that Ambani-held Independent Media Trust (IMT) might eventually gain a controlling interest. In July 2014, the ownership was transferred to Independent Media Trust. On 29 May 2014, RI announced it would be acquiring control in Network 18 Media & Investments Ltd, including its subsidiary TV18 Broadcast Ltd. The board of RI approved funding of up to ₹40 billion (40 billion) to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RI is the sole beneficiary, for acquisition of control in Network 18 and its subsidiaries. On 8 July 2014, RI stated that it has completed the Network18 take-over.
2014–Present: Reliance Industries eraEdit
- The group was acquired by the Mukesh Ambani led conglomerate Reliance Industries in 2014. The acquisition occurred by maneuvering a complex deal through the Independent Media Trust (IMT), set up by Reliance Industries to issue a loan for the debt encumbered Network18 in 2012. It resulted in Reliance receiving 78% of the shareholding, and as of 2019, the conglomerate holds 73.19% of the shares. In 2020, the merger of DEN Networks and Hathway as subsidiaries under Network18 was projected to have reduced the shareholding to around 64%.
- Teesta Retail is a private limited company which holds 1.85% shareholding of the company. It is an arm of Reliance Industries Investments and Holdings and is listed in the promoters group shareholders of Network 18. The ownership of Teesta Retail is held by ten shell companies registered at the same address and with Reliance Industries domain names for their websites. The ten companies have listed directors of whom seven appear across all of them, who are also directors at various Reliance subsidiaries.
- Network18 is a public limited company and the public holdings of the company constitutes around 25% of its shareholdings. Among major individual shareholders was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Network18, Hariharan Mahadevan who held 1.11% of the shares as a part of the public.
Ritu Kapur was the first director of the company after the resignation of the Jindals and was followed by Raghav Bahl, who was the managing director of the company between 2003 and 2014. Haresh Chawla is considered to be the founding CEO of the company. He was appointed as the CEO of TV18 in 1999, having formerly worked at Times Music and Amitabh Bachchan Corporation. Chawla became the first CEO of Network18 after it was acquired and converted into the holding company of TV18. He resigned from the company in November 2011 before Network18 entered into a deal with Reliance Industries, publicly stating that he wanted nothing to with the Ambanis. According to Raghav Bahl, the entire credit for enabling Network18 to establish a diverse variety of partnerships with the likes of CNN Worldwide, CNBC, Forbes, Viacom and History Channel belonged to Chawla. The COO, B. Sai Kumar succeeded Chawla as the CEO of Network18, and resigned before the takeover of the company by Reliance.
One of the directors at Reliance Industries and the Prime Minister of India's appointment to the Quality Council of India, Adil Zainulbhai became the chairman of the board of directors of the company following the takeover. Kshipra Jatana who was the general counsel at the group and had resigned during the takeover, remained associated with the company to oversee the transition, became the manager in the interim period. A. P. Parigi had become the new CEO of the company after Sai Kumar's exit and held the position until he was removed by Reliance Industries in 2015. Rahul Joshi, the editorial director at The Economic Times was hired and appointed as the CEO and editor-in-chief of the entire group following the takeover. In 2018, Joshi was elevated to the position of managing director by the board of directors and Jatana resigned from her position.
|Tenure||Managing Director||Chief Executive Officer||Editor-in-Chief|
|2003–2011||Raghav Bahl||Haresh Chawla||(Segregated editorial management)|
|2011–2014||B. Sai Kumar|
|2014–2015||Kshipra Jatana (non-directorial)||A. P. Parigi|
Operating divisions and subsidiariesEdit
TV18 Broadcast is the news broadcasting subsidiary of Network18. The company owns a 51.16% stake in the subsidiary as of 2019, while the rest of the shareholding is divided between various Reliance Industries properties and public holdings. The company operates a number of news channels in several languages under the brand of News18, such as News18 India (Hindi) News18 Kerala (Malayalam) and News18 Tamil Nadu (Tamil), among others. News18 Lokmat is operated through a joint venture with the Marathi language newspaper Lokmat.
The news channel CNN-News18 (English) is part of a brand and content franchise agreement with CNN Worldwide, while the business news channels of CNBC TV18 (English), CNBC Awaaz (Hindi) and CNBC Bajar (Gujarati) are part of a franchise agreement with NBCUniversal, the owner of CNBC. ETV Network is also owned by the company.
Viacom18 Media is a mass media joint venture between TV18 Broadcast and ViacomCBS with 51% and 49% stake respectively. IndiaCast Media, the distribution arm is a joint venture between Viacom18 Media and TV18 Broadcast, which provides domestic and international distribution services for the company. TV18 as a result has a 75% stake in the distribution venture. Viacom18 is the parent company of 46 channels in 8 languages through the brands of Colors, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and Comedy Central. Colors is a bouquet of general entertainment channels in various Indian languages, including two Hindi language mass entertainment channels Colors TV and Colors Rishtey. Coke Studio India is owned by MTV India which is managed by the company. The Indian editions of VH1, Comedy Central and the children's channels of Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon Sonic are also run by the company.
Viacom18 Digital Ventures is a division of the company which provides the advertisement based OTT platform called Voot and two subscription based OTT platforms, namely the premium edition Voot Select and the children's edition Voot Kids. Viacom18 also owns the production studio of Viacom18 Motion Pictures which has produced acclaimed films such as the Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Kahaani (2012) and Queen (2014). The studio has an additional digital production division called Tipping Point which produces content for Voot and JioCinema, the OTT platform of Reliance Jio. Among other divisions of the company are Integrated Network Solutions (INS) which develops intellectual properties and Viacom18 Consumer Products which manages the licensing business of the venture.
AETN18 Media is a joint venture between TV18 Broadcast and A&E Networks, the owner of History channel, with 51% and 49% stake respectively. The joint venture manages the infotainment channel of History TV18, and previously managed the lifestyle channels of FYI TV18 which was shut down in 2020.
Web18 Software ServicesEdit
Web18 Software Services is the digital media and e-commerce subsidiary of the company. It operates the digital news outlets of Network18 such as the websites of News18.com (formerly IBNLive.com) and Firstpost, and mobile apps and social media assets of News18. The editorial management of Firstpost is merged with Forbes India magazine. The e-commerce site BookMyShow and the business news site Moneycontrol.com are also owned by Network18.
Network18 Publishing is the publishing house of the group and publishes a number of business directories, and B2C and B2B magazines. The division publishes magazines such as Better Interiors and Better Photography and the magazines of Overdrive and Forbes India as part of a licensing agreement with OverDrive, Inc. and Forbes Inc. respectively.
Hathway Cable & DatacomEdit
Hathway Cable & Datacom was the multi-service operator of the Rajan Raheja Group, which was acquired by Reliance Industries in 2018 along with DEN Networks. It is one of the largest multi-system operators in India alongside the Hinduja Group companies of RPG Cable and InCablenet, and the Essel Group controlled Siti Cable, and also one of the three major cable distributors in India alongside DEN Networks and InCablenet. Hathway and DEN Networks were merged under Network18 as part of a consolidation in 2020.
DEN Networks was a cable service provider owned by Sameer Manchanda which was acquired by Reliance Industries in 2018 along with Hathway. It is one of the three major cable distributors in India alongside Hathway and InCablenet. DEN Networks and Hathway were merged under Network18 as part of a consolidation process in 2020.
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