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DirecTV expands intl prog to include India's Aastha channel

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MUMBAI: DirecTV, Inc. today announced that it had expanded its South Asian programming lineup with the launch of Aastha Broadcasting Network, which is India's most prominent spiritual network. Aastha will now be available on DirecTV channel 2005 on an a la carte basis for $14.99 per month.

"We respect the fact that spirituality is integral to the very essence of the South Asian culture around the world and Aastha will now be able to fill those social and spiritual needs for the US audience," said DirecTV Inc vice president, International Aaron McNally. "We are delighted to have concluded an affiliation agreement with Aastha, which is already a household name in India and throughout the South Asian diaspora. Aastha will provide a link to India's cultural roots, customs and society to the more than two million South Asians living in the United States."

Aastha CEO Kirit Mehta said, "We have joined the DirecTV platform to be offered alongside other leading South Asian programming that DirecTV is bringing to United States. With our programming and DirecTV's South Asian offering that spans all genres and languages of interest to the South Asian viewers, DirecTV will now offer the most comprehensive South Asian multi-cultural programming platform available in America. We look forward to the relationship we will have with DirecTV as a partner, affiliate and friend. With this expansion we will strive to satisfy the deeply felt need of spirituality from the vast community of Indian residents in the United States."

The multi-year agreement with Aastha brings to viewers in the United States the top-rated programs that have made Aastha India's number one spiritual network and preferred network to Asian Indians in Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe. The Aastha lineup features spiritual discourses, socio-spiritual-cultural ceremonies and events, meditation techniques and devotional music. It charts the holy places of pilgrimage, elucidates on traditional festivals and focuses on Indian vedic sciences like ayurveda, yoga, astrology, crystal therapy and aroma therapy.

Aastha broadcasts programming in Hindi, Gujarati and English. In 2005, the channel will air locally originated programming as well. DirecTV has developed two new base programming packages exclusively for customers who subscribe to the new international services -- Basic - $9.99 per month and Preferred Choice - $29.99 per month. The Basic package offers up to 50 channels including local channels (where available), music and shopping channels. In addition to those channels offered in the Basic package, the Preferred Choice package includes a variety of relevant English-language channels such as ESPN, CNN, The History Channel, Food Network, TNT, MTV and the Fox Movie Channel.

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