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Airtel Digital TV Initates Merger Talks With Dish TV

In its bid to give a tough competition to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Sunil Bharti Mittal-led Bharti Airtel has actuated talks with Dish TV, to merge Airtel Digital TV with the DTH player.

“The talks are at the exploratory stage,” one of the persons in the know of the developments said. “Idea is to consolidate operations and give a strong fight to Reliance Jio. Together, Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV will be a giant,” the source told Economic Times (ET).

If the deal comes through, the combined entity will become the world’s largest TV distribution company with over 38 million subscribers and 61 percent DTH market share in India, the report said.

Both Airtel and Dish TV refused to comment on the news. The consolidation in the Indian DTH space started when Dish TV completed its merger with Videocon d2h in March last year.

Airtel, in the past, had tried to sell its DTH business to Tata Sky but failed to take the talks through to reach an agreement.

However, in December 2017, the telecom service provider sold 20 percent stake in Bharti Telemedia, the holding company of Airtel Digital TV, to private equity firm Warburg Pincus for Rs 2,258 crore ($350 million), valuing the DTH business at Rs 11,300 crore.

According to TRAI data, Dish TV combined with Videocon d2h leads with a 37 percent market share, followed by Tata Sky with 27 percent share and Airtel Digital TV with 24 percent share.

In the third quarter of December 2018, Dish TV had 23.6 million subscribers and it reported the operating revenue of Rs 1,517.4 crore.

Airtel Digital TV, on the other hand, had 15 million subscribers towards the end of Quarter 3, FY 19 and its revenue from the DTH business stood at Rs 1033 crore.―Business Today

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