UTV started off as United Television Software Communications Pvt. Ltd. on 22 June 1990. The company later went public and was renamed UTV Software Communications Ltd. in 1998.
The UTV Group was incorporated as 'United Television Software Communications Private limited' on 22 June 1990; under the Companies Act, 1956 as a Private Limited Company. Subsequently, it became a deemed Public Limited Company and the word Private was deleted on 27 November 1995. It was renamed 'UTV Software Communications Limited' with effect from 19 March 1998.
At the time of incorporation, the group was primarily engaged in the production of television content for Doordarshan- Prasar Bharti and also production of ad films. In 1992, with the entry of satellite TV, ZEE TV commissioned the group for producing content of around 250 hours wherein it became one of the largest content providers. Around the same time, it also expanded into the businesses of in-flight entertainment programming and dubbing. In 1993, it ventured into the business of acquiring programs from outside producers and marketing airtime on their programs. In 1995, it launched a daily soap titled 'Shanti.'
In May 1995, it acquired 54.60% stake in Laezer Production Private Limited to enter into the area of post-production. Laezer Production Private Limited was incorporated on 29 January 1982. On becoming a deemed Public Limited Company, the word 'Private' was deleted on 27 November 1995. Subsequent to the acquisition of 54.60% stake by the UTV Group, Laezer Production Limited was renamed as UTV Studios Limited in December 1995. At that point of time United Studios Limited (USL) was engaged in the business of providing post-production facilities to television software houses, private producers and advertisers.
In 1996, Disney contracted the UTV Group to dub its library into Indian languages. In 1996, the company’s In-flight Entertainment division, which was catering to Air India only, started catering to other international airlines.
In 1998, the company's subsidiary USL took over Ram Mohan Biographies, an animation production house pioneered by Mr. Ram Mohan, one of the leading animation artistes in the country. The animation division in USL was called RM-USL and thereafter was rechristened as UTV Toons and remained as a division of USL.
The company then diversified into broadcasting, by acquiring a controlling interest in Vijay Television Limited in November 1998. Vijay Television was incorporated on 30 May 1996 and operated Vijay TV, a 24-hour Tamil-language channel out of Chennai. The Udayar family of Chennai initially controlled Vijay Television as GEC channel since 1992. In 1995, United Breweries Group acquired the operational control of the channel and the name was changed to Vijay TV. The UTV Group acquired the controlling interest from United Breweries Group.
In 1995-96, the company ventured into the movie distribution business.
In 2000, it incorporated a group company called UTV Net Solutions Ltd., in which it held an 86% stake. UTVNet was in the business of Internet content creation and aggregation, Indian regional language portals (with dual language content) and leveraging of their audio/video library rights for Internet usage. In 2000, UTVNet started the business of broadband content aggregation under the brand name sharkstream.com, through its subsidiary Sharkstream.com Pte. Ltd., Singapore.
In 2002-03, the group acquired the studio business of Western Outdoor Media Technologies Limited (WOMTL) to attain leadership position in the Post-Production, Special Effects and Animation business. The Studio operations of WOMTL were thus merged with the group’s post-production business.
Since 2000-01, the UTV Group has initiated a corporate restructuring exercise to consolidate their holdings in certain group companies and subsidiaries. The objective of these exercises was to maximize shareholder value, remove conflict of interest and build a powerful combined entity.
In October 2005 after a $10 million outsourcing partnership with US-based BKN New Media Inc., UTV Toons moved to expand to 200 employees and purchased additional Autodesk 3ds Max 8 software licenses.
Between 2007 and 2011, UTV was targeted for acquisition by studios in the USA and the UK. Fuse Global, global media fund had approached and made several attempts to play a role in becoming a financier to the studio, but it never materialised for Asian media billionaire Keyur Patel who has also done similar large format deals in USA.
Acquisition by Disney
In 2011, Disney offered to buy out stakes held by public shareholders and other promoters of the company in a deal valued around Rs 20 billion.
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