Star News uplink issue held up by the home ministry

NEW DELHI : Even after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) last week cleared Star News' proposal for restructuring its uplinking entity to conform with foreign direct investment (FDI) norms, the company's request to uplink from India is now stuck with the home ministry.

"The ministry of information & broadcasting has cleared it for all intents and purposes. But now Star News' proposal is pending with the home ministry, which is examining it in detail with respect to security issues," a Press Trust of India report quoted a government official as saying.

The report further stated that a Star India spokesperson declined to comment on the issue when contacted and joint venture partner Ananda Bazar Patrika could not be reached for comments.

Star had offloaded 74 per cent equity stake in the uplinking entity Media Content and Communication Services India Pvt Ltd (MCCS) to the ABP Group, which had applied afresh last month, the PTI report said.

The fresh application by MCCS followed the government's decision to tighten uplinking guidelines, in which it stipulated that an Indian entity should hold at least 51 per cent equity. The government had earlier expressed apprehensions about proxy control of Star in MCCS wherein minority stakes had been offloaded to a clutch of high net worth individuals like ad man Suhel Seth, Hindustan Times editor Vir Sanghvi and Balaji Telefilms chairman Jeetendra.

In the fresh application moved by MCCS, it had sought government permission to induct 26 per cent foreign investment from Star News Broadcasting Ltd. The restructuring , according to the application submitted to FIPB, was to be a two-part exercise, which involved MCCS first becoming 100 per cent owned by Aveek Sarkar's ABP Group. The second stage involved MCCS offloading 26 per cent in favour of Star.

Meanwhile, learns that because MCCS, for all practical purpose, is an ABP company that has 74 per cent shareholding, all public relation activities would now be looked after by MCCS itself through a public relations agency.

The agency that has been shorlisted to do this job, according to PR industry sources, is Perfect Relations.

Till now Star India used to handle most of the PR activities associated with Star News.

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