Alexander Zilo, former Media Assets dealmaker and ex-program chief of Hong Kong-based satellite operator Star TV, has signed to set up a satellite TV service for the Middle East.

Zilo, who tendered his resignation to Star head Julian Mounter last month, was headhunted to join Orbit, a company funded by highly placed Arab interests, seeking a veteran satcaster to lead the satellite pay-TV service, to be delivered via Arabsat to an elite group of Gulf consumers.

Zilo’s track record strategizing Star’s basic five free-to-air channels — MTV Asia, Prime Sport, BBC, Star Plus and Star Chinese — was the clincher for the company, which seeks to launch its multicultural service to a pan-regional audience.

With the ink on his employment contract barely dry, he has begun recruiting an international setup team — causing concern back at Star TV headquarters in Hong Kong. Many Star employees are apparently interested in joining the project setup, and already Star technical chief Phil Braden has resigned to join Zilo.

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