Following the merger of Seagram, Vivendi and Canal Plus, the new entity, Vivendi Universal, plans to invest in Indian film and TV production and build up an Indian music catalogue, according to local press reports.
The entertainment powerhouse will reportedly produce local-language TV programming and has already committed $7m to finance three Hindi movies in Mumbai. The company will also market Universal's television library to Indian broadcasters but has no plans to launch its own channels in India.
Meanwhile Universal Music is developing a repertoire of Hindi film and other Indian music which it plans to market via the internet to the vast Indian diaspora worldwide. One of the stated aims of the Vivendi-Seagram-Canal Plus merger was the ability to distribute Universal's music library through Vivendi's broadband and wireless services. But as film music accounts for more than 60% of the Indian music market, the company has also decided to focus on local film production.
The move makes Universal the third Hollywood studio to invest in Indian production following Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Sony has already produced its first Hindi-language feature and is developing several other projects. Fox is setting up studios in Mumbai and through sister company Star TV plans to produce 10 Hindi features every year.
The Vivendi-Seagram-Canal Plus merger is currently awaiting regulatory clearance from the European Union after being waved through by North American authorities and France's CSA (Screendaily, August 18).