Murdoch, PM discuss media investments, economy

NEW DELHI: If any media czar could whip up the appetite of the media, it certainly is Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, the fifth largest media company in the world, even though he is coming to India after almost five years.


On the second leg of his latest Indian visit, Murdoch met up with some top government officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, today and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi.

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch with colleagues outside PM Manmohan Singh's residence on Tuesday in New Delhi.

According to government officials, during his 40 minute ?odd meeting with Singh, at his residence, Murdoch discussed various aspects of the Indian

economy, including foreign investment in the media sector.

The government officials said in the evening after the meeting that Murdoch, while not dwelling on any particular venture of his in India, did opine that the media sector should be further opened up to FDI.

He also dwelt on other aspects of the Indian economy, partly that he referred to in his interview with Star News yesterday, and conveyed to Sigh that China was many years ahead of India as far as attracting foreign investment.

The Indian PM is said to have listened to Murdoch, while not committing anything, the government sources said. No direct references were made of the Tata-Star joint venture relating to a proposed DTH service in India, as also a news venture that Murdoch?s company has with the ABP Ltd for Star News. The sources pointed out that Murdoch was also spotted, along with

his Indian colleagues, on the campus of the Indian Parliament.

Everything seems fine: Murdoch to his colleague

Another courtesy call took him during the day to 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. He was accompanied, amongst others, by his Indian partner in the news venture Aveek Sarkar there.

Later in the day, Murdoch attended a dinner hosted by senior Congress leader Murli Deora. The guest list included top journalists like Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta and others like Congress Members of Parliament Rajiv Shukla and his TV producer wife Anurradha Prasad, Sachin Pilot and his wife, Jyotirditya Scindia and wife, TV personality Rajat Sharma and several government officials like information and broadcasting ministry secretary Navin Chawla.

Murdoch is slated to meet up with information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy and Union minister of communications and IT Dayanidhi Maran tomorrow.

Murdoch on an Asian tour of his empire is visiting India after China, which he feels is almost 10 years ahead of India. But he also opined in an interview with Star News, which he controls 26 per cent, that India?s potentials are good.

Murdoch moves ahead...

News Corporation had total assets as of 31 December, 2004 of approximately $53 billion and total annual revenues of approximately $22 billion. News Corporation is a diversified international media and entertainment company with operations in eight industry segments: filmed entertainment; television; cable network programming; direct broadcast satellite television; magazines and inserts; newspapers; book publishing; and other. The activities of News Corporation are conducted principally in the United States, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Basin.

This Asia visit of Murdoch could be considered historic, as the Hong Kong ?based Media Partners Asia says another media baron John Malone visited Japan for a rare joint venture deal.

Pictures by SANJAY SHARMA/Indiapix Network

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