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Star TV drops Wharf pact

HONG KONG — Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV Ltd. announced Monday it will not enforce a disputed memorandum of understanding with Wharf Cable Ltd., Hong Kong’s sole cable distributor, to supply programs for broadcast over Wharf’s network.

Star TV, 64% held by News Corp., and Wharf have been embroiled in a dispute over Wharf’s airing programs produced by Star.

Wharf is Star’s only available conduit for its pay television services in Hong Kong.

Star said it was producing the four channels as agreed, but Wharf has refused to rebroadcast them.

Wharf, which launched its cable system last October, started legal action in January, seeking a court ruling on whether it was legally bound to a memorandum of understanding to rebroadcast Star channels, including pay channels.

“Despite the best efforts of Star TV (and its parents) HutchVision and News Corp., Star TV has reluctantly come to the conclusion that a workable relationship with Wharf Cable is simply not possible under the present agreement ,” Star chief executive Gary Davey said in a statement.

Wharf spokesmen were not available for comment.

Neither side has ever disclosed what lies at the heart of the disagreement. Analysts speculate the dispute is over the content of the programming.

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