Star Plus, Star News to launch in US, Canada; after that it will be Africa, Australia

Following up on the launch of Star Plus and Star News channels in the United Kingdom and Europe, Star has charted out plans to extend the footprint of the two channels in the United States and Canada.

The channels hope to capture the large Indian population in these countries, Arun Mohan, executive vice-president, distribution, says.

Confirming that Star expected to air the twin channels from August 15 in the US and later extend the same package to Canada, Mohan said: "After that we will be looking at Africa and Australia." Asked whether Star had marked out any specific countries, Mohan said that though countries like South Africa and Nigeria immediately came to mind, any country in Africa which had a significant Indian population could be covered.

The two channels began airing in the United Kingdom on 14 January on Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB platform. Though the channels are free-to-air at present, the process of encryption of the channels has been completed and they will become paid channels from April. Star has tied up with two multiple-systems operators (MSOs) and the two channels will be on air for ?16 per month.

In the US, Star has allied with six MSOs and will air the channels for a flat price of $25 per month for the two channels.

If the arrangement is anything like that existing in the UK, Star Plus viewers will have to do without Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). Star has no licencing agreement from Celador to screen it. Celador holds the rights to the original which spawned KBC - "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".

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