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HKT/Star unit taps Foxtel exec topper

New company to mix 'Net access, portal, and video-on-demand

HONG KONG — Foxtel CEO Tom Mockridge has been named the head of the joint venture formed by Cable & Wireless HKT and News Corp.’s Star TV.

The as-yet-unnamed company, formed in November, combines HKT’s Internet access, broadband portal and video-on-demand service with Star TV’s content and access to 300 million viewers across Asia.

The new company has applied for a pay TV license in Hong Kong and intends to spread its service to other Asian markets. It plans to be up and running three to six months after the necessary government approval, expected by mid-year.

The move comes on the heels of the sale earlier this week of HKT, Hong Kong’s dominant telecommunications company, to Richard Li’s Pacific Century CyberWorks. Li was the founder of Star TV and sold the satcaster to News Corp. Li’s bid for HKT succeeded despite News Corp.’s last-minute infusion of $1 billion into Singapore Telecommunications, which had also wanted to buy HKT.

Naming a News Corp. exec as CEO now, even though HKT holds 60% of the company, has also raised questions about the future of the joint venture under the new ownership.

Mockridge, who joined News Corp. in 1991, will report to exec chairman David Prince, who is the deputy chief executive of HKT.

As for Mockridge’s replacement at Foxtel, sources said Jim Blomfield’s name keeps surfacing. An executive with News Australia, Blomfield has been lobbying the Australian government to change the regulations that prevent the company from holding terrestrial broadcast licenses because of Rupert Murdoch’s American citizenship.

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