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Star, Zee merge distrib’n arms

Indian cable TV rivals form joint venture

LONDON — Indian market leaders and competitors the News Corp.-owned Star TV and Zee Turner have formed a joint venture combining their television distribution.

Formerly, Star’s distribution was handled by Star Den India, an equal partnership between Star India and Den Networks, and Zee’s by Zee Turner, a 74:26 joint venture between Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Turner International India.

The newly formed company, Media Pro Enterprise India, an equal partnership between Star Den and Zee Turner, will distribute a total of 68 channels.

Zee had an earlier distribution partnership with Star TV that ended in 1999 when News Corp. acquired Star.

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of India is investigating the deal to check whether it violates antitrust regulations.

Zee chief exec Punit Goenka said: “The long-term vision of this venture is to pool together the resources of both the partners so as to address various anomalies of the present analog market, curb piracy, introduce transparency by accelerating pace of digitization in India, which would result in benefit to all the stakeholders in the value chain.”

Turner India managing director, Anshuman Misra, said: “This is a big win for the consumers as it gives them the choice of the best of content, greater access and variety all under one bouquet, and paves the way for faster digitization of the cable industry.”