Star Plus, Star News launched in UK, Europe; KBC not part of package

The Star TV network is having a grand party in London on Thursday to celebrate the launch of the Star Plus and Star News channels in the United Kingdom and Europe. The channels began airing on 14 January on Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB platform.

Star Plus viewers will, however, have to do without India's daily fix, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). Star has failed to reach a licencing agreement to screen it from Celador, which holds the rights to the original which spawned KBC - "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".

This hasn't deterred Star from flying out Amitabh Bachchan - Bollywood superstar and celebrity host of KBC - for the bash. His, after all, is the face that reflects Star's present pole position in India's channel wars.

Star News newscaster and New Delhi Television boss, Pranoy Roy, Hindustan Times editor Vir Sanghvi, and society presenter Simi Garewal are among the other prominent personalities who will be there.

The strong south Asian community in Britain in particular is what Star hopes to hook with the launch of these two channels, says News Television India Ltd's corporate communications head Yash Khanna. While the Star News feed in Britain will be exactly the same as that in India, Star Plus will be slightly different. KBC will obviously be a hard act to cover for but Star hopes that its other hit soaps and serials, as well as programmes from Channel V bunged in for good measure, will hook the viewer.

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