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Walt Disney Co. to Acquire Indian Kids Channel & Invests in UTV

The Walt Disney Co. plans to acquire Hungama TV, a leading Indian children's television channel, and take an equity interest in media company UTV Software Communications Ltd. as the media giant strengthens its presence in a rapidly growing media market, where local content production is key. Both transactions are subject to certain conditions and regulatory approval.

Hungama TV coo Zarina Mehta will work with the Disney team on the organizational and operational integration of Hungama TV into Disney's portfolio of kids' channels.

Launched in September 2004, Hungama is a 24-hour Hindi-language entertainment cable channel for children and is consistently one of the top-rated channels in India's children's market.

"India is a long-term strategic priority for The Walt Disney Co.," said Andy Bird, president, Walt Disney International. "The acquisition of Hungama TV, and the investment in UTV will significantly advance our presence in India and allow us to develop a strategic relationship with one of the country's leading integrated media companies.''

"Television is and will continue to be the major growth engine in building franchise affinity in India. Integrating Hungama TV into The Walt Disney Co.'s existing India channel portfolio of Disney Channel, and Toon Disney/Jetix, will allow Disney to fortify its already strong presence in India's children's television market,'' said Rich Ross president, Disney Channel Worldwide.

"Disney's global portfolio of kids' channels seeks to strengthen connections with kids and families in India and each market we're in by developing local creative content that represents and reflects the lives of kids there,'' said Ross.

"Hungama TV has proven its appeal to Indian children and families with compelling entertainment choices and has in a brief period built a strong management team and staked out a leadership position in the competitive children's television environment,'' said Ronnie Screwvala, chairman/ceo, UTV Software Communications.

Disney reaches more than 107 million television homes in India through a program block on the terrestrial network and Disney Channel and Toon Disney/Jetix reach approximately 30 million homes on cable and satellite in India and together rank number two in the market. Toon Disney is number one in South India.

Hungama TV ( is India's first made in India 24-hour entertainment channel for kids, with localized content, in India's national language, Hindi. Positioned as a general entertainment channel targeted at kids 4-14, Hungama TV has multi-genre programming, such as drama, action, game shows plus animation to appeal to all sub segments. Hungama TV's core philosophy is to provide entertainment where kids are part of the programming and marketing initiative making it a channel for, of and by the kids. UHE (United Home Ent. a separate company floated by Ronnie Screwvala and UTV) is its holding company.

Incorporated in 1990, UTV ( has a diversified set of businesses, which includes television and film production and distribution, animation production and other services. Listed on the Indian Stock Exchange, UTV has offices across Asia, UK and USA.