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Star News gets 10-year India uplink OK

Ananda deal allows channel to remain in country

NEW DELHI — Rupert Murdoch’s Star News India has received permission to uplink from the country for 10 years.

His Star News channel was embroiled in controversy over the uplinking issue throughout 2003. Star News has been surviving on temporary government permits lasting from a week to a couple of months.

The channel landed in hot water when its contract with Indian news production company NDTV ended in March. Since then Murdoch, along with son James, had been wooing the government for permission to uplink within the country.

Star struggled against the government cap of 26% placed on foreign ownership in India.

When wooing and pressure tactics failed, the Murdochs created Indian company Media Content & Communication Services to serve as a front for Star India. But the government found many irregularities in the structuring of the Indian entity.

A single Indian entity must hold at least 51% in the company seeking uplinking from the country. A senior government official told Daily Variety, “Finally Star has streamlined its equity structure according to the norms,” resulting in permission to uplink.

Star has formed an alliance with Indian media company Ananda Bazar Patrika under which the Indian company holds 74% in the venture, Star the remainder.

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