Television

Star fires open letter riposte to 'TOI', 'India Today'

MUMBAI: The "print fight" (mainly) between India's leading publication The Times Of India and leading broadcaster Rupert Murdoch's Star has reached boiling point.

Over the past several days the TOI has been publishing articles either on the front page or prominently on inside pages (including the edit page), which at times criticised the manner in which Star News was proceeding regarding ownership structure. A recent report highlighted the fact that the government wanted to know how little was big for Star News.

Not one to take things lying down the broadcaster has issued an open letter, which appeared today in all major papers except (unsurprisingly) the TOI, and Economic Times. Two letters have been issued signed by Star India's head of corporate communications Yash Khanna. They are addressed to the TOI's editor as well as the India Today editor.

The former refers to the article 'Star news equity: More than meets the eye' which appeared in the TOI on 10 July. Star News claims to have gained a market share of 22 per cent. "This clearly shows that the channel is liked by the audiences in our country and considered an Indian channel. The channel is put together by a team that is 100 per cent Indian and it stands for an independent, balanced and unbiased flow of news to its readers," the letter states.

The letter ends with Star stating the obvious which is that TOI has a vested interest in launching the attack.

Meanwhile Star's letter to India Today relates to its DTH venture Space TV. The broadcaster has expressed concern over the piece 'Loopholes Galore' which appeared in the magazine on 14 July. "We fail to understand why you focussed on Space TVs paid up capital in relation to Star. We trust that you are aware that Rs. 10 crore is in fact only the amount of the non-refundable entr?e fee required to make a DTH license application. We do not understand how you could have concluded that this is the total investment for the DTH business. "

Star's letter says that India Today was wrong to state that MCCS' application for a news channel was made on the Star News letterhead when in fact it was made on an MCCS letterhead. " We do not see any anomaly between Ravina Raj Kohli carrying the titles MCCS president and Star News president," states the letter.

Star has also accused India Today of using the nationalistic peg to raise alarm bells about Murdochs grand designs for the country. "Surely India Today is not trying to suggest that Indian audiences should be deprived of the right to choose the content they enjoy because that content is defined as foreign under the law." states Star's letter.

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