Television

Star applies for news uplink licence; seven Indian stakeholders reportedly on board

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MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: With seven Indian stakeholders reportedly on board, Star India today announced it had applied to the information and broadcasting ministry for permission to uplink its Star News channel from India.

 

The application has been made under the guidelines issued by the government of India on 26 March for uplinking of news and current affairs TV Channels from India.



Star announced that it had restructured its news channel business so as to conform to the guidelines. As of now Star holds 26 per cent of of the total paid-up capital in Star News with the remaining 74 per cent held by resident Indians.



While Star would not offer any confirmation on who the Indian stakeholders were, reliable industry sources have thrown up the following names: Kumarmangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, in his personal capacity, Suhail Seth, regular Page 3 face and CEO of Equus Red Cell advertising firm, Vir Sanghvi, television personality and editor of the Hindustan Times, Rian Karanjiwala, the Delhi-based legal advisor to the Star Group, Balaji Telefilms chairman Jeetendra Kapoor and the head of a financial institution in his personal capacity.



Two names have cropped up regarding the last mentioned equity holder. It could be either Hemendra Kothari of DSP Merill Lynch, the FII that was mandated by Star to structure the Star News deal and find Indian partners, or Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra. Interestingly, a name that was earlier doing the rounds, Sunil Alagh, the controversial former head of bakery and dairy products major Britannia Industries Ltd, is missing from the list of would-be Indian partners. Replacing him as the seventh equity holder is his wife, television actress Maya Alagh.



As per the information available with indiantelevision.com, Birla holds a 25 per cent share in the Star News venture. Although that means that Birla holds just 1 per cent lesser shareholding than Star, the Rupert Murdoch company still holds the controlling stake. This is because veto power on decisions is possible only if the equity is 26 per cent and above.



At the time of posting this report, the shareholding pattern of the other six Indian partners was not known with any degree of certainty by indiantelevision.com.

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