Plan has Indian gov’t Star-gazing

Officials could deny Murdoch uplink facilities from India

NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap.

In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its equity in Star News down from 49%.

Last month Star distributed 74% of the equity in its uplinking firm Media Content & Communications Services (MCCS) among seven individuals. One, cement tycoon Kumar Mangalam Birla, is reported to have already sold his 25% holding to an undisclosed buyer. Hemendra Kothari, who owns another 25%, is Star’s merchant banker.

Except for a 5% holding in the hands of Balaji Telefilms, the rest has been distributed among professionals close to Star.

“Star will not be allowed to control the new media company by taking refuge under a fuzzy equity structure,” a government official told the Economic Times newspaper. “While it is technically meeting India’s norms, it is actually defeating the purpose by effectively holding control of MCCS.”

The government could deny Star News uplink facilities from India. Under the new media policy, only Indian companies may access direct uplinking, which is crucial for news channels as it allows for instant coverage of events.

Star had earlier sought permission to launch its own service and directly uplink via satellite from India.

Meanwhile, Prannoy Roy-backed news and entertainment network New Delhi Television (NDTV) is gearing up its Hindi news channel programming.

It has pacted with Standard Chartered Private Equity, the global private equity arm of Singapore-based Standard Chartered Bank, for an $11 million cash transfusion.

The Delhi-based company went independent in April this year after its five-year contract with Star TV India to provide news content expired in March. NDTV airs two news channels in English and Hindi.

(Arti Mathur in New Delhi contributed to this report).

More TV

  • Merger Mayhem

    Merger Mayhem: Media Companies Scramble to Bulk Up in Order to Survive

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

  • Crackle to Develop Series Based on

    Sony Crackle to Develop Sci-Fi Series Based on 'Heart of Darkness' (EXCLUSIVE)

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

  • Crackle - The Oath season one

    50 Cent's 'The Oath' Renewed for Season 2 by Sony's Crackle

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

  • Sky Orders Rock Documentary on Blondie

    Sky Orders Rock Documentary on Blondie Drummer Clem Burke (EXCLUSIVE)

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

  • Viacom Launches MTV Classic in Philippines,

    APOS: Viacom Launches MTV Classic in Philippines, Nick Jr App in Australia

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

  • Strictly Business Podcast: CNBC's David Faber

    Strictly Business Podcast: CNBC's David Faber on Covering Media Giants and Moguls

    NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV to explain the equity structure of its new 24-hour news channel amid concerns that it is flouting the foreign investment cap. In April, the Cabinet limited foreign investment in news channels to 26% and gave Hong Kong-based Star three months to bring its […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content