Star drives home DTH plan in India

Car co. takes 80% stake in digital TV service

NEW DELHI — Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV has cozied up with an unlikely partner to launch a direct-to-home broadcasting platform in India — local automaker Tata.

Tata, which recently moved into mobile telephony and information technology, will have an 80% stake in the venture, with Star TV subsid Space TV holding the rest.

“The Tata group and Star TV look forward to building India’s largest digital television platform, offering a range of channels with interactive features and services,” a Tata spokesman said Wednesday.

Tata declined to give financial details but industry analysts estimated the initial investment in the project at 4 billion rupees ($87 million).

The venture will offer viewers 100 channels including a mix of English-lingo news, sports, movies and entertainment.

It will challenge Indian Zee TV mogul Subhash Chandra’s DTH service, launched in October, which offers 48 channels, including 10 movie choices in English and Hindi.

Indian has capped investment by foreign media companies in DTH ventures at 20% and foreign institutional investors at 29%; the controlling 51% must rest with an Indian partner.

Tata and Star TV’s project now goes to the Indian government for approval, which could take three to four months.

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