Star takes on TV in S. India

Co. makes renewed push into booming market

News Corp.’s Asian unit Star is making a renewed push into TV in South India, one of the fastest-growing sectors of the booming local broadcast market.

It has created a joint venture with Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Entertainment Ventures that will take a majority stake in regional broadcast group Asianet Communications. Values of the investment in the joint venture and the Asianet acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed.

Star previously pacted with stock market-listed Balaji Telefilms to launch channels in South India in mid-2007. But progress faltered and Star severed ties in August.

Asianet operates two channels in regional languages Malayalam (Asianet, Asianet Plus), one in Kannada (Suvarna) and one in Telugu (Sitara).

Star will fold its Tamil-language entertainment net Star Vijay into the joint venture and said Star Jupiter will develop and launch more South Indian channels.

“This is a game-changing partnership for Star,” said Star CEO Paul Aiello. “Adding the South Indian channels to our extensive portfolio of Hindi and regional language channels, Star takes a big step towards becoming a truly national broadcaster in India.”

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