Global media baron Rupert Murdoch has been cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to pick up a 4% stake in Zee Telefilms. Zee TV chairman Subhash Chandra handed over the stake to Murdoch as part of a settlement which returned control of the Zee Network to him. The value of Murdoch‘s investment has gone up by 50 per cent within three months of the two hammering out a settlement thanks to the appreciation in the Zee Telefilms share price.


Following in the footsteps of ESPN, Star Sports too is hiking its basic subscription fee by Rs 1.51 from January 1, 2000. The new price per subscriber has gone up to Rs 6.50 per month as against the current Rs 4.99. According to ESPN Software India managing director Manu Sawhney the new price is the floor price that will be charged to the cable networks.


Foreign exchange violations by television broadcasters are once again coming to the forefront. The Delhi high court has issued notices to Star TV, Sony and Zee TV following a public interest litigation filed by advocate Ajay Jain. Jain says that the channels are owned by foreign companies and are up linking from foreign soil. He has alleged that these companies are collecting advertisements through their Indian counterparts and transferring huge amounts of money overseas in a gross violation of Section 8C(2) of the Exchange Control Manual. Similar petitions against broadcasters have cut little ice with the courts in the past.


Bollywood channel B4U has launched in West Asia in partnership with Arab Radio & Television. B4U will be available to viewers in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Israel, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan and Egypt - a population of over 84 million. Arab Radio & Television Europe will also introduce B4U in other European countries where it does not have a presence. Finally, it is seeking to make its debut in South Africa, Australia and east Asia.


Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications and Shyam ACeS (India) have signed a $ 30 million agreement to build an international gateway for the Asian Cellular Satellite satphone services in India.


Karan Thapar, Indian chat show host and head of production company UTV‘s current affairs division, jointly bagged the Best Current Affairs or Magazine Programme Presenter with CNBC Asia‘s Bettina Chua Abdullah at the 1999 Television Asia Awards in Singapore last week. Star TV India‘s news programming partner, NDTV, won the Best Documentary Programme category for its series Out of India. Synergy Communications BBC show Mastermind India was runner up in the Best Game or Quiz show category. Other India programmes/performers receiving high marks and a commendation include: *Turning Point (Best Sports Programme; NDTV for Star Plus) *Family No 1 (Best Comedy Programme; Sony Entertainment Television) *Alka Amin (Best Drama Actress for her role in Bhanwar for Sony Entertainment) *Niret Alva (Best Current Affairs or Magazine Programme Presenter for Star Plus) .


European broadcasters and programmers are in talks with DD to air French programming and movies late in the night daily initially. This will be followed by other European language content later.


Jain TV today launched a daily 15-minute medical news bulletins which will be aired thrice a day. The idea behind this is to effectively bridge the communications gap between institutions providing health care and the intended beneficiaries. The Hindi version has been called Swasthya Samachar.


French broadcaster TV5 is negotiating a marketing and distribution tieup with the Zee TV owned MSO SitiCable. It has also signed up with 52 other cable operators and its management says it is open to any DTH platform on a non-exclusive basis.


HBO Asia last week launched the web sites for the Asian divisions of Home Box Office (HBO) and Cinemax. Both sites contain film lists and synopses for the current month and the following month, as well as recommendations for current films, information about upcoming titles and highlights of exclusive programs such as miniseries, concerts and documentaries on HBO.Information about cable TV operators is also available at the site.


The Ziff Davis-owned tech news portal ZDNet, is to start an India portal in January 2000 ( The Indian portal would cover India specific technology developments as well as IT business related news on a daily basis. It is negotiating contracts with various newspapers and technical magazines for content.

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