Rupert Murdoch's Star TV has said it will invest more than $400m on setting up a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite platform in India, following the Indian government's decision to open its doors to such services earlier this month.
However, Star has denied reports that it is talking to Indian state broadcaster Doordarshan about partnering on the proposed platform, although under Indian law it would be required to carry all of Doordarshan's channels. Indian legislation also caps foreign investment in DTH services at 20%.
It comes as no surprise that Murdoch would want to invest in India's potentially lucrative new broadcasting sector. The Indian government blocked his plans to launch DTH services three years ago, and he has been investing heavily in the country's media since the collapse of his joint venture with local broadcaster Zee Telefilms at the end of last year.
Star TV CEO James Murdoch is understood to have discussed some aspects of DTH policy with India's minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sushma Swaraj, on a visit to Delhi last week.
Doordarshan is also planning to launch a DTH platform, most likely in partnership with other local players (ScreenDaily, November 14). Several private Indian companies have also expressed interest in entering the DTH market including Zee, content producer United Television (UTV), which has a production alliance with Star, and the Hinduja brothers. But existing domestic broadcasters are also restricted from owning more than 20% of DTH platforms, a provision that has opposed by companies such as Zee.
Meanwhile, Star has announced that it will launch its Star Plus entertainment channel and Star News on the UK's BSkyB platform, which is part owned by Star parent News Corp. In addition, a US version of Star's Chinese channel, Phoenix Satellite Television, has been launched on the US' leading DTH platform, DirecTV, which Murdoch has expressed interest in buying.