Star TV has signed a five-year output agreement with Media Asia granting it exclusive pay-TV and internet rights to the Hong Kong-based company's films.

The deal was signed today (August 3) by Star TV chairman and CEO James Murdoch and Media Asia group managing director Thomas Chung.

Territories covered by the deal include China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, but not Japan or Korea, traditionally lucrative markets for Media Asia which the company wanted to hold on to. The deal expands a previous output agreement, signed in 1999, which gives Star exclusive pay-TV rights to Media Asia product in the Philippines and Taiwan.

With an output deal signed recently with China Star Entertainment (Screendaily, June 28), Star now claims it owns the world's largest library of contemporary Chinese movies.

"We strongly believe today's announcement, along with our recent programme initiatives, will make Star TV the leading content provider in Asia," said Murdoch adding that content is "a key factor in determining the winners and losers in this highly competitive marketplace." Star TV, still currently a loss-making operation, is being folded into News Corp's Sky Global Networks ahead of a float in the US.

Media Asia aims to produce six "quality" films a year. Its slate for 2000 includes Gen-Y Cops, starring US actor Paul Rudd; Princess D, starring and directed by Sylvia Chang and The Touch, produced by Michelle Yeoh.

"Quality films need quality distribution platforms. Star TV, across Asia, is such a platform for pay-TV," said Chung. "I am very pleased today to have expanded and extended our collaboration with Star."

The first Media Asia movie to be broadcast under the new agreement will be Gordon Chan's 2000 AD, scheduled for December 2000.