Star in talks to bring Disney channels to India

NEW DELHI: The Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp's jewel in the crown, Star India, is in discussion with Disney to distribute the channels that it proposes to bring to India.


"Yes, we are in discussion (with Disney)," Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea told journalists on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit, jointly organised by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), here yesterday.

Mukerjea, did not spell out the details of the discussions that News Corp/Star has had with Disney and also did not give any timeframe for the conclusion of the negotiations.

However, television industry sources indicated that apart from Star, others who are in the fray to get associated with the Disney channels in India include ESPN Star Sports (ESS) and Sony Entertainment TV. It is pertinent to mention here that ESS is an equal joint venture between Star and ESPN, a Disney group company, and industry sources said it stands a good chance to get the distribution rights for the Disney channels.

Disney's Singapore office could not be contacted for comments today as an e-mail sent on the Star issue generated an automated reply saying the person concerned was out of office on business till 1 December. The Walt Disney Company, the first US studio to adopt a local approach to production by tailoring content to specific audiences, plans to bring in four to five channels from its stable to India.

Disney, which had an agreement with K K Modi group company, Modi Entertainment Network, to undertake business activities in India, especially those related to television and merchandising, got out of the contract earlier this year, reportedly after paying approximately $ 14 million to the Modis --- a figure that none of the parties would confirm or deny.

That Disney is bullish on India can be gauged from that fact that in September it announced Walt Disney Television International (Asia Pacific) would expand its TV distribution into India spanning Disney branded and non-branded programming across all TV delivery platforms. The company also plans to open a dedicated local sales office in India by end of the year.

"We have already seen major growth in the Asian television marketplace and the reorganisation of our business in India gives us incredible opportunities to build upon our recent successes in the region," Walt Disney Television International (Asia Pacific) MD Doug Miller had then said in a statement, adding, "India, as one of the largest markets in Asia, and the fastest growing television market, is central to all of our plans. and believe that a local presence is essential."


In India, Walt Disney Television International provides feature films, live action series and reality shows to Star Movies, AXN and HBO and also contributes 29 hours per week of children's programmes to Doordarshan, Eenadu, SET India, Star Plus and Star World.

Walt Disney Television International (WDTV-I) is responsible for all of The Walt Disney Company's free and pay television activities outside the US. These activities include branded and non-branded programme distribution through Buena Vista International Television (BVITV), production and broadcasting, and the development and management of Disney Channels and other media investments.

WDTV-I is renowned for its locally produced entertainment through Disney channels and terrestrial branded programmes. Each Disney channel provides unique quality programming specifically designed for its local audience and entirely dedicated to kids and their families.

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