Advanced Television

Samara “lends” Worldspace name to Indians

July 12, 2011

Chris Forrester

Worldspace, the bankrupt pay-radio broadcaster, is to be re-born for Indian subscribers. Worldspace’s former Indian CEO M Sebastian is behind the formation of Timbre Media, which is seeking to launch a DTH, broadband/web and cellular music service for Indian subscribers “within weeks”.

Moreover,  Sebastian says they have been in touch with the new owners of Worldspace to “lend us its brand name” which he says it has done. The new owner of Worldspace’s assets is Yazmi USA, a company controlled by Noah Samara, Worldspace’s founder.

Sebastian told The Hindiu newspaper that Worldspace’s India operation, despite its parent company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, had been doing exceedingly well ahead of the financial problems with “more than” 200,000 subs. “But we kept on getting emotional calls from loyal subscribers about the vacuum they felt. So, 80 former employees who used to manage the entertainment/content joined hands and developed a good infrastructure. Then we requested the current owner of WorldSpace to lend us its brand name as people associate with that brand only. He agreed and now we will serve the same old classic wine in a new bottle.”

Previous reports stated that Timbre, which was formed last year, had obtained exclusive rights to the Worldspace name in India and the Middle East by means of a licence with Worldspace’s new owners.

Timbre Media has secured investment funding from music label SaReGaMa India, which will take a 10% stake in the new business, and will produce music channels for the venture.  SaReGaMa’s business head Mr Adarsh Gupta says the new company will be completely subscription-driven as earlier with no compromise on quality and content. “Viewers’ favourite stations like Farishta, Jhankaar, Gandharv and Shruti will also be back on various platforms,” he said.

Key former Worldspace staffers, such as Giridhar Gowda (head of content) and Sheetal Iyer (head of programming) are also connected to Timbre. About 80 out of the original 90 Worldspace India staff are on board the new business.

However, while 10 years ago the Worldspace concept of dozens of channels was much welcomed by radio-starved Indian listeners, that situation is now very different. There are – at least in the main cities – plenty of radio stations on offer, not to mention ‘free’ web-based stations available for those with a broadband connection.

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