Cabinet may discuss Star uplink case early next week

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: The Indian Cabinet is likely to take up the uplinking issue and news channels' uplinking from India and their equity pattern early next week, according to government sources.

Government sources today told that the relevant file has reached the cabinet secretariat and would be taken up for discussion by the full Cabinet early next week.

It is also learnt that as a compromise formula, the government may cap the foreign direct investment in news channels uplinking from India at 26 per cent with the likelihood of making a provision that FIIs/NRIs/OCBs can bring in other 23 per cent of investment. This means that the Indian shareholding in such a news company would be 51 per cent or more.

However when attempted to get this confirmed from the information and broadcasting ministry late today evening, no official response could be elicited.

It is anyway certain that whether the government takes a stand on the uplinking issue and gives Star a permission to uplink from India or not, the Rupert Murdoch company would go ahead and have a news channel on air from 1 April.

Industry sources tell that as of the beginning of this week, Star India teams have been making presentations to advertisers with demo tapes of just what the look and feel of the new Star News channel is. As for the vexed question of the uplinking licence, the message going out is that 1 April there will definitely be a Star News beaming into Indian TV homes. Even if it means having to uplink out of Hong Kong as a stop gap.

On 31 March, Star's relationship with NDTV for providing content for Star News comes to an end.

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