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News Corp.’s Asian arm Star TV and Indian cabler Digital Entertainment Network have launched a joint venture to distribute channels in the fast-growing Indian TV sector.

As-yet-unnamed outfit will run as a stand-alone company. It will be the exclusive distributor of Star’s channels across all fixed platforms. Mobile is excluded from the deal. It also aims to pick up distribution contracts from third-party channels seeking carriage.

India’s TV market is expected to change radically in the coming year with new satellite platforms: 70-80 channels are awaiting launch approval from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; dozens of regional and foreign nets are hatching similar plans; and the arrival of IPTV with more cablers are converting, by law, to conditional access — a set-top box that regularizes how consumers receive pay TV.

“I don’t suppose many channels would come to us for distribution if we were just Star, but by launching an independent company it will be neutral and able to serve many,” said Star spokesman Yash Khanna.

Star’s bouquet spans 17 channels including Star Plus, Star News, National Geographic and the Disney Channel.

DEN, India’s largest cable network company, is digitizing its network and upgrading “last-mile” connections.