Television

Star puts in its application for news channel

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NEW DELHI: The Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star Group has finally applied to the government for starting a news channel and getting allotted a transponder on an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)-owned Insat satellite.

According to government sources, the government received Star's application last week, under Star News Broadcasting Ltd.

Setting to rest speculations on the business model it would go in for, the Virgin Island-registered Star News Broadcasting Ltd has also decided to go in for an Indian content partner which will supply it TV software for the news channel, an arrangement similar to what Star has with the Delhi-based NDTV and which expires on 31 March, 2003.

The Indian news content partner of Star News Broadcasting Ltd will be Star India Pvt. Ltd., an Indian company. So Star India, under chief executive Peter Mukerjea, will sell news content to Star News Broadcasting that will have an office in Hong Kong, for airing on Star News channel post 31 March.

Another precautionary measure taken by Star is that it will send news and current affairs content via Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) to be uplinked to an Insat series of satellite, in all probability Insat 2E, a senior government official told indiantelevision.com.

If the permission comes through, it would also mean that post-31 March, 2003, Star News or any other avatar of the news channel will be available on an Insat satellite. "However, the company is free to go in for a secondary transponder on another satellite too, at a later stage as long as Insat satellite is the primary satellite," a government source indicated.

At the moment, the Star channels, including Star News, is beamed to India through the Asiasat 3 satellite.

If all these factors are taken into account then, through a masterstroke, Star has made sure that rivals and critics are unable to put a spoke in the wheel for Star News channel to twinkle over the next six months.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Star India is going full steam ahead with recruitments, both editorial and technical, for the news channel.

Though at the moment more technical-side appointments are being made, it is expected that by November the full editorial team will be in place. Considering that electronic medium journalism occupies a very small space in India, it would not be surprising to see personnel from rival news channels essaying different roles in the proposed revamped Star's news channel.

According to the grapevine, names of few people from Aaj Tak hopping over to Star are doing the rounds. It is being said that an input editor may be from Aaj Tak. Some other journalists have joined from the print medium too, like a young and celebrated defence correspondent from an English daily.

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