SKY INDIA GOES DIGITAL

Country's first direct-to-home service set

HONG KONG — Hong Kong-based Star TV gave a preview Wednesday of Sky TV, India’s first direct-to-home satellite service.

ISkyB has applied for a license with the Indian government but it has not yet been approved.

“Sky will pioneer DTH in India shortly,” Star TV chief executive Gary Davey told a news conference in New Delhi.

The service will broadcast compressed digital signals from the PanAmSat 4 satellite.

“Sky will transform television viewing in India in much the same way as our free-to-air service did six years ago,” said Rathikant Basu, chief executive of Star TV, India.

Along with educational and entertainment programming, Sky will offer what it calls “exclusive news.” It has been reported in India that the company is planning an all-news channel.

But Steve Askew, Star’s head of programming, told Daily Variety there are no plans at this time to go head-to-head with CNN and the BBC’s World Service.

Nevertheless, he added: “We’re exploring all opportunities.”

The Indian service is looking to Britain’s BSkyB as its model. According to Star, BSkyB has 5.5 million subscribers and has created new jobs for 60,000 people.

“In India, with its greater potential base of subscribers, the job opportunities connected with the advent of Sky should be exponentially greater,” Basu said.

“In addition, DTH will permit the latest in television programming to be accessed in parts of the country where no cable connections are possible.”

Sky will be offered in India by News Television (India) Private Ltd. (NTVI).

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