Star gets crucial cable presence in the east with stake in RPG Netcom

Getting the ground in order goes more than a long way in pushing through new subscription packages as well as in ramping up connectivity numbers. Star India has just added another significant piece to its armory on that score with its acquisition of a 26 per cent equity stake in RPG Netcom Ltd, the Goenka Group's multisystem operator that controls over 75 per cent of Kolkata's cable-connected households.

An official announcement regarding the alliance is expected in the next few days.

An indication that something was cooking between Star India and RPG Netcom was evidenced at the beginning of the year itself when the Rupert Murdoch network announced its new monthly subscription package of Rs 40.50. There was nary a whimper from the MSO, a far cry from 2001 beginning which saw Star off the air for 62 days when it announced a Rs 30 subscription rate.

Business daily The Financial Express reported today that Star has already signed an agreement with RPG Netcom whereby it will pay around Rs 520 million for the 26 per cent share in the MSO.

With the addition of RPG Netcom, Star now has three major MSOs under its control. This includes Hathway Cable & Datacom, in which Star officially has a 26 per cent stake, and Win Cable, an almost wholly owned subsidiary of Hathway.

Hathway has a significant presence in Bangalore and Mumbai while Win is very strong in Delhi. RPG's coming under the Star wing gives the network strong leverage in all the main metros except Chennai, where DMK scion Kalanithi Maran's Sumangali Cable Vision (cable arm of the Sun Network) holds complete control.

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