DTH delay okay being linked to 'concerns' over Star's radio venture

NEW DELHI: The proposed Tata-Star direct to home television service, it seems, is getting effected because of some other business ventures of Star in the country.

According to government sources, a senior representative from Tata Sons too, was conveyed similar messages as was hinted to Star Group CEO Michelle Gutherie when she called on I&B minister Jaipal Reddy and ministry officials recently.

The issue at the core of delay in giving permission to the Tata-Star venture is Star's involvement with Radio City, a private FM radio station that operates in several cities. Sources said I&B ministry mandarins are still upset that Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd (MBPL)-run Radio City was also a party to the court action over the licence fee issue.

Ishaat Hussain, finance director in Tata Sons, met up with I&B ministry representatives yesterday. Though he did not make any comments after the meeting, government officials did admit that the issue of DTH cropped up during discussions.

What is considered a more grave issue with the government, sources said, is MBPL's "obstinacy" when the previous government had tried to probe the Radio City functioning on allegations that it was Star that really controlled the operation and not licence holder MBPL.

Though the Tata-Star proposed venture has got clearance from the home ministry and some other government agencies, the I&B ministry is sitting on the file, refusing to clear it, which would pave the way for a letter of intent to be given to the managers of the proposed DTH service.

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