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Viacom buys 50% of Indian TV network group Prism

Viacom said it has acquired a 50% stake in Prism TV, an Indian TV group. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman is shown ringing the NASDAQ opening bell in June.

Viacom said it has acquired a 50% stake in Prism TV, an Indian TV group. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman is shown ringing the NASDAQ opening bell in June.

(Robin Marchant / Getty Images)

Viacom Inc. has finalized a $153-million deal that increases its presence in India with a 50% interest in the Prism TV group.

The transaction was completed Friday. It extends Viacom’s partnership with India’s Reliance Industries, which now owns the Network18 Group.

Prism TV operates five regional channels in India that specialize in general entertainment and low-budget soaps. The Network18 Group owns the remaining 50% of Prism TV.

The Indian government approved Viacom’s investment earlier this month.

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“With today’s announced deal, Viacom moves further into the regional markets where growth is accelerating,” Wells Fargo Securities media analyst Marci Ryvicker wrote in a report. “We would point out that the Indian market is extremely fragmented, with roughly 60% of India’s 1.2 billion population speaking regional dialects.”

Viacom, controlled by mogul Sumner Redstone, owns U.S. cable channels MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, BET and the Paramount Pictures film studio.

The company co-owns with Network18 the popular Colors television network in India. Colors is broadcast in Hindi, India’s most widely spoken language.

Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said in a statement that the investment in Prism was “an important step in building on our leadership position in India, a key market in Viacom’s international growth strategy.”

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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