Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries' acquisition of Network18 gives it control of a diversified portfolio: media properties which include news channels, entertainment channels, education channels, e-commerce, publishing and films.
With Reliance Industries facing relentless political heat during the recent general elections, many say the acquisition is meant to give it a strong voice in the media.
They argue that Reliance Industries moved fast on the acquisition as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which also regulates the electronic media, is putting together recommendations aimed at restricting the role of big business in the media.
Reliance Industries, however, has said that the acquisition is meant to "differentiate its 4G (fourth-generation telecom service) business by providing an amalgamation of telecom, web and digital commerce".
It is in line with global trends where such consolidation is happening: in the US, Comcast, the country's largest cable company, bought NBC Universal which owned a host of entertainment and business channels. It has now made a bid to buy out Time Warner Cable.
Telecom service provider AT&T wants to buy DirecTV, a satellite TV provider, for $49 billion in order to expand its consumer base across platforms.
Text: Surajeet Das Gupta, Business Standard
Image Courtesy: AP, Network 18