Television

Star Plus, 3 other network channels launch in the US

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MUMBAI: Star has finally launched in the US on the News Corp controlled DirecTV platform.

Alongside flagship channel Star Plus, the three other channels that launched are newest kid on Star block Star One, Hindi news channel Star News and Tamil language entertainment channel Star Vijay, Sameer Nair, Star India COO, confirmed to indiantelevision.com.

Nair said the four channels started beaming into the US from 2 November.

With this latest initiative, Star's "Indian channels" have now become available in Asia, Middle East, United Kingdom and the USA.

Commenting on the US launch of the network's news channel, Star News CEO Uday Shankar stated, "We are extremely proud to be India's first and only global news channel catering to the Indian diaspora spread across the globe."

Meanwhile, the decks appear to have been cleared for the official re-entry of the Star channels into neighbouring Pakistan. That they are already available in most Pakistani C&S homes that can afford them is of course another matter. According to a report put out last Saturday by Pakistani daily The News, the country's information ministry has sent a formal summary to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's office, seeking his approval to grant permission to Star TV channels.

The report said that with rumours of relaxation of the ban, several cable TV operators in Islamabad have already begun (openly instead of clandestinely) telecasting Star Plus and Star Utsav channels.

The justification for the lifting of the ban on Indian channels that has been in force since 2001 specifically and only for the Star Network channels. According to Pakistan's information ministry, an exception can be made in Star's case as it is a non-Indian multinational media group.

A rather strange argument to say the least, if one were to take into consideration the fact that the ban on Indian channels came into being to protect Pakistani television from being "overwhelmed" by Indian offerings. And that applies far more to a Star Plus than a Zee TV, for which the ban recommendation stays.

And why wasn't Sony Entertainment TV India accorded the same benefit as Star since it is also "a non-Indian multinational media group"? Well, Sony didn't push for it unlike Star which lobbied strenuously to get the permissions, is the reasoning offered by sources who have been following the developments.

The formal request for distribution and marketing of Star channels in Pakistan was made by SATSTAR Media, a wholly owned subsidy of the Star Group.

The ministry has sought the required permission to be granted to the channel by changing the existing policy, The News has reported.

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