Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV is taking a 12% stake in Indian broadcaster United Television (UTV), and has formed a strategic alliance with the company to jointly produce content intended for movie theatres, the Internet and TV.
Under the terms of the deal, UTV and Star's Indian subsidiary, Star TV India, will produce Hindi-language features for distribution both in India and overseas. The partners will also produce content for UTV's Singapore-based broadband venture - sharkstream.com.
Star and UTV also plan to jointly programme and package a raft of niche channels for Star's DTH service. UTV will provide content for Star's soon-to-be-launched Star Education and Star Health channels and will also be involved in Star's proposed regional-language channels. In addition, UTV's existing channels will be added to Star's bouquet in India and overseas. The partners will also collaborate in webcasting ventures and Star is expected to use UTV's extensive post-production facilities.
The deal follows Murdoch's recent highly-publicised five-day tour of India during which he stated his intention to launch six regional-language channels on the Star platform, invest in Indian Internet ventures and open a $100m film and TV production centre in Mumbai (Screen International March 17). UTV is potentially a powerful local ally for Murdoch who ended a joint venture with India's Zee group last October.
UTV is planning to announce a $50m IPO in May or June this year. The US' Warburg Pincus currently holds a 24% stake in the company.