The Walt Disney Co. is acquiring a controlling interest in an Indian media and entertainment company that reaches more than 100 million weekly viewers.

The Burbank-based entertainment company will become India’s leading film studio as a result of its majority stake in UTV Software Communications Ltd.

Disney first took a financial interest in UTV in 2006 after acquiring Hungama TV, a leading Indian children's television channel. In 2008 Disney upped its stake with a $200 million investment in UTV.

Having UTV within Disney is part of a growth strategy to increase brand presence and reach in key international markets, said Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International.

“This acquisition expands our footprint significantly and allows us to more effectively build, monetize and brand multi-platform franchises, and deliver a rich library of content to the world’s second largest population,” Bird said in a prepared statement.

Ronnie Screwvala, who had been the chief executive at UTV, has been named as managing director, The Walt Disney Company India.

UTV operates television channels in 20 countries in seven languages. It also has a digital division, Indiagames, the country’s number one mobile gaming company.

Mark R. Madler