India 'interesting' DTH market: News Corp COO Chernin; defends move to instal James Murdoch as BSkyB CEO

CANNES: News Corp president and chief operating officer supported and defended the group's proposal to put Star Asia boss James Murdoch at the helm at BSkyB today.

This apart, he also hurled a warning at the British Broadcasting Corp which has broken away from the BSkyB platform and has decrypted, making some of its content - sourced from Fox - available free to viewers. Additionally, he also pointed out that News Corp found India an interesting DTH market, and that the group would not be making heavy investments in Bollywood, or in print.

Speaking to a select band of journalists at the Carlton on the Croisette in Cannes during MipCom a short while ago, he said: "I'd like to see him as CEO of BSkyB. But I guess he will have to go through the process. The nominating committee. We figure it will be all right."

He pointed out that it was indeed ironic that such a ruckus was being raised about the younger Murdoch's candidature. "There's a fair bit of noise now. But let everyone remember: News Corp will not put in an inferior candidate. Sobreriety is needed."

Referring to the BBC, Chernin said he did not think the British pubcaster was right to launch unencrypted in the UK. "BBC should be concerned about content, they are such a strong content creator themselves. Their moves are very short sighted. We are not happy at all. In fact, we were shocked. We will investigate every possibility to stop this. Issue an injunction, stop selling shows. Remember we have a long standing relationship with the BBC. They have been buying a lot of our shows, The Simpsons, etc."

Chernin also sounded irritated when informed about Zee TV chairman Subhash Chandra's foray into DTH (Zee's Dish TV soft-launched on 2 October). "Who says Zee TV has launched DTH? There have been announcements, but where is it?" he asked. When told that it was a soft launch he said, "I don't see it going into hard launch very soon."

For us, India is among the more attractive DTH markets in the world. "It is amongst the fastest growing pay TV markets," he pointed out. "We would like to be there. We are happy about our Star Asia operations, both in India and China. More particularly India because it is making profits and contributes revenues," he added.

That should be music to Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea and COO Sameer Nair's ears.

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