SABTNL Inks Production Pact With Lotus Films

Mumbai | Updated: Jan 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Ltd. (SABTNL), has entered into a joint venture with Mumbai-based Lotus Films for film production. SABTNL runs SAB TV and supplies television software to Doordarshan networks.

The two companies hold equal stake in the joint venture. It is a 50:50 joint venture, and the idea is to co-produce films, said SABTNL vice chairman and managing director Markand Adhikari.

The joint venture has earmarked an annual outlay of Rs 20 crore towards film production, and the plan is to make five films a year. The average budget of each film would be Rs 3-4 crore. Lotus Films is floated by Anand Pandit who is also in the board of SABTNL. We decided that our listed company should go for a partner in its film making business. The idea is to de-risk the business model and have a bottomline approach, said Mr Adhikari.

The first film titled Wajahh, will be made on a Rs 2.5-3 crore budget. Starring Gracy Singh, the film is set to release in May this year. We are going to start production of two new movies in March. These will be in the thriller and comedy genre, said Mr Adhikari.

The company is also exploring the possibility of making a foray into film distribution business. For the first two movies, we will be opting for the traditional distribution route. But we are studying the distribution-exhibition network and may enter into film distribution. We will, however, not get into multiplexes, he said.

He added that their news and current affairs channel will be on INSAT satellite. We decided to launch a news and current affairs channel through SAB Samachar. We are not doing it through the listed company, as the guidelines for news channels allow for 26 per cent foreign holding. There is no such clause for a channel in the entertainment genre, Mr Adhikari said.

SABTNL has struck a two-year deal worth $3 million for providing access to its television software library to TV Asia in USA and Pahela Channel in the Middle East. In the UK market, SAB TV recently went on the BSKYB direct-to-home (DTH) platform as a free-to-air channel. We have already broken even in our UK operations, he said.