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Murdoch’s Star Tv On Rise

Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV has just clinched programming deals with Paramount and MCA TV for a clutch of TV series and assorted programming fare to air on the satcaster’s Star Plus free-to-air channel.

The agreements are the first Star purchases from any Hollywood major studio outside sister company Twentieth Television Intl.

While the deals are not enormous in money terms or numbers of hours, they do represent a minor breakthrough for the Hong Hong-based channel in establishing a dialogue with two substantial U.S. suppliers of product.

Among the shows involved in the separate deals, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” and “Hard Copy” will be stripped, while the original “Star Trek” series will air on a weekly basis.

MCA’s “Tales of the Golden Monkey,” “Voyagers,” “Street Hawk” and “Misfits of Science” are involved from MCA.

Some fresh product

While some of the shows involved are moldy, several have never been seen before in some of the territories covered by Star’s vast footprint.

Star exec VP programming Ross Plapp denied the satcaster had lifted its prices significantly to lure the studios into pan-Asian agreements.

“These two have finally decided to do business with us because the conditions were right. We’re not paying any more money.”

Plapp added that the profile of Star Plus, a general entertainment service distinct from Star’s dedicated movie channels, would be enhanced by these deals.

“The schedule looks healthier each month,” he said. “It’s a long way from where we were a few years ago, when our knees were sore from begging.”

MCA TV Intl. VP Pal Cleary and Paramount TV Intl. VP Stephen Carey, both Sydney-based, negotiated the deals with Star on behalf of their studios.

In a separate development Star has disbanded its acquisitions department following the departure of William Fisher, director of program acquisitions, for HBO Intl. in Singapore.

Acquisitions will be consolidated under Plapp’s programming department.

Neil Coulston, who ran the programming department for the Seven Network, has been tapped as Plapp’s deputy.

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