Star News gets week's uplink extension

NEW DELHI: The Indian government today gave permission to Media Content & Communication India Pvt Ltd, in which Star holds 26 per cent equity stake, to continue uplinking news content for Star News on a temporary basis for another week starting 26 June.


Even as this breather came through, Star India now seems to be more amiable to bring down the prices of Star channels from the existing Rs 50 to make them more affordable to consumers in a post conditional access regime.

Pointing out that Media Content & Communications India Pvt Ltd (where 74 per cent shareholding is with Indians as per the new uplinking policy for news channels) has been given a week's temporary okay for uplinking, additional secretary (broadcasting) in the information and broadcasting ministry Vijay Singh said, "We do give temporary uplinking permission on a case by case basis. They came with a fresh application for temporary uplinking and it was granted to them."

Speaking to journalists after a meeting today, lasting over an hour, with Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea, Singh said that the government expects to complete the formalities regarding an application of MCCIPL filed last week soon.

"We are awaiting feedback from the home ministry and department of space after which the I&B ministry will take a stand on the application (of MCCIPL to uplink from India news content for Star News)," Singh explained, adding that today's meeting had been sought by Star India.

Asked specifically by whether the government can complete all the formalities within a week's time and whether further extensions needed to be given, Singh said, "I don't see any reasons why it cannot be done."

Incidentally, the same ministry last week was grumbling that MCCIPL's application had come too late and too near the 90-day deadline given to the likes of Star News taking all permissions within the 90-day period. Hinting in a way that Star News would have to go off air from 26 June or cannot beam live events from India.

Though Singh did not get into the specifics whether a paid up capital of Rs 100,000 was too low or not, he did admit that the details and clarifications sought from MCCIPL have been furnished.

Asked about a court case that has been filed in the Gwalior high court against a conditional letter given to Space TV, a Star affiliate, for KU-band DTH television service wherein the court has severely criticized the government stand, Singh said, "We did discuss the DTH case, but I cannot discuss the details."

At the end of the meeting, a smiling Mukerjea joked with that Star News may go off the air from midnight or tomorrow. On the serious side, he said, "The government has been very appreciative of our stand."

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